Wal-Mart is providing workers with an app aimed at helping them budget their money and get paid before payday.
The retailer said Wednesday that it teamed up with financial technology start-ups Even and PayActiv to provide an app to 1.4 million Wal-Mart workers.
The Even app automatically plans ahead for bills and savings goals and will show workers how much they can safely spend. It will also allow workers to access cash before a scheduled payday up to eight times a year for free.
Wal-Mart said it will cover the costs for Even for both full- and part-time workers at Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and its e-commerce sites. Users will have to pay a fee if they want to get paid early more than eight times a year.
The service should help workers avoid expensive short-term payday loans, Wal-Mart officials told the New York Times in an interview. Workers who are less worried about cash issues “feel more confident and more settled at work,” Judith McKenna, Wal-Mart’s chief operating officer, told the newspaper.
Critics and labor groups said the service is another sign that Wal-Mart doesn’t pay its workers enough.
“Living paycheck to paycheck is too common at Walmart and that is the problem that Walmart should be trying to solve,” said the Organization United for Respect at Walmart.
Wal-Mart pays new workers $9 an hour. That’s above the $7.25 hourly federal minimum wage but below what some of its rivals pay. Target, for example, has a minimum hourly wage of $11 and plans to grow it to $15 by the end of 2020.