business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • Wal-Mart plans a major push into the financial services business. According to a report in the Financial Times, the company has piloting a number of services such as check cashing and wire transfers that it believes it can effectively offer without owning a bank. These services now will be extended to many of the company’s US stores, and the company is looking for other financial products it can bring to the marketplace.

    “I think financial services is an opportunity,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott told the Financial Times. “I'd like to do it more along the Wal-Mart way than other people's.”

  • A new study suggests that 85 percent of Americans believe that using biometrics to verify a person’s identity is “acceptable.” The study, commissioned by the US Department of Justice, indicated that the acceptability of the technology is dependent on sufficient privacy safeguards being in place.

  • Nash Finch bought five South Dakota Sunshine Food Markets. The price was not released. Nash Finch reportedly will convert three of the stores to the Econofoods banner. The other two will be evaluated before a decision is made.

  • Winn-Dixie Stores appointed Larry White to be director of operations services. White is an 18 year industry veteran, having worked at Tom Thumb and Randalls.

KC's View:
Regarding the Wal-Mart story…It was only a matter of time before Wal-Mart made a move on this area, and only a matter of time before Wal-Mart attempts to get involved in virtually every business in which it perceives a profit can be made and its relationship with the consumer can be exploited and extended.

Re: the biometrics study… If you want to see where biometrics is headed, go rent a copy of “Minority Report.” Ultimately, because biometrics will be sold to the consumer as being a near-foolproof way to ensure safety and security, the consumer will be accepting. Problems will only emerge if and when business decides that it's okay to exploit the system's information base for gain...

While "Minority Report" may be a good measurement for where the future is headed, the old "The Prisoner" TV series may be the cautionary tale to watch...