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    Kmart Tests Financial Centers

    Pilot locations planned for 23 stores in Midwest, L.A. and Puerto Rico
     

    Kmart is testing financial centers at 23 locations where shoppers can cash checks, pay bills, place money orders and transfer money.

    “We’re looking at how to better utilize the real estate in our stores and to better serve our customers,” Kmart spokeswoman Shannelle Armstrong told the Chicago Tribune. Seven of the pilot locations are at stores in Illinois, 10 are in Los Angeles, five are in Puerto Rico and one is in Wisconsin.

    Kmart, owned by Hoffman Estates, Ill. -based Sears Holdings Corp., will join other big retailers that provide financial services. Walmart has money centers in many of its stores, offering money transfer, bill pay and check cashing, among other things. The Arkansas retail giant continues to add money centers, considering it a rapid growth area.

    Trade publication U.S. Banker reported last September that has money centers in about 40 percent of its U.S. stores.

    Such services target the estimated 10 percent of American families that do not have bank accounts and a substantial share of the population that is “underbanked,” or lack needed financial services, according to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. study released last year. Those numbers could be growing as some traditional bankers have warned recently that, as they face more restrictions on the levels and types of fees they can charge depositors, they might have to discontinue services such as overdraft coverage, driving more consumers to alternate financial service providers.
     

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