Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s deal to distribute Green Dot Corp.'s mobile checking account, GoBank, signals a fundamental change in how both companies approach their audience.

The companies are longtime partners: Wal-Mart owns a 4% stake in Green Dot, and it used to exclusively distribute Green Dot cards; in recent years, it also helped test the prepaid issuer's new "Reload @ the Register" system and sold its store-branded GE Capital prepaid business to Green Dot. Their decision to launch GoBank at Wal-Mart stores next month is an admission that even with Wal-Mart's significant marketing and distribution power, prepaid cards will never appeal to every consumer they want to reach.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.