Walmart-backed financial startup buys companies

A Walmart location in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

NEW YORK — The financial technology startup that Walmart is backing is to acquire two financial companies as it tries to build an app where shoppers can perform different financial activities, from paying to borrowing and saving.

The company called Hazel will buy Even, a financial benefits platform that gives employees earlier access to their earned pay. It also buys ONE Finance Corp. which combines saving, spending and borrowing in one account and also allows customers to apply for a debit card. The combined business will operate under ONE. The transactions are expected to close in the first half of this year.

Omer Ismail, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. veteran, will lead ONE as CEO. Walmart recruited him last year.

The announcement, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes a year after Walmart said it was creating a fintech startup with Ribbit Capital, one of the venture capital firms behind Robinhood.

Walmart said Wednesday that many Americans can’t access credit, build savings or wealth, and must manage their financial lives through multiple disconnected apps. He estimated that nearly a quarter of American adults are unbanked or underbanked and that about 80% of fintech users rely on multiple accounts to manage their finances.

Walmart’s moves show how the nation’s largest retailer is picking up the pace as it throws its weight into the banking world. Walmart says its financial products and services will be made available to consumers directly and through employers and merchants, including access to its 1.6 million U.S. employees and more than 100 million weekly buyers.


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