GOLIATH LOSES THIS ROUND: Federal jury finds that Walmart misappropriated trade secrets, slapped with more than $12 million in damages.

In partnership with Silicon Valley start-ups Even and PayActiv, Walmart announced today that it will allow it 1.4 million employees to use “Intsapay” to take wages before their actual payday — the most noticeable among a slew of other “financial wellness services” that will now be offered by the company headquartered in Bentonville.

The entire package will come in the form of an app that “connects to an associate’s checking account, prepaid account or Walmart Associate Paycard, and links to Walmart’s payroll systems,” according to a news release. The app will serve as an easy-to-use tool, in theory, for employees to figure out how to spend their paychecks responsibly.


But the New York Times has notes that the idea of an all-in-one financial management app with an in-house version of payday loans belies the bigger issue: Walmart employees aren’t being paid enough.

Here’s a choice quote from the piece:


“It sounds like this may be a useful service but it doesn’t tackle the fundamental problem Walmart workers suffer,” said Paul Sonn, general counsel of the National Employment Law Project, an labor advocacy group. “Their paychecks are too small.”

And some statistics to back that up:

The minimum starting wage at Walmart is $9 an hour, which is $1.75 higher than the federal minimum wage but lower than the starting wage at retailers like Costco, which pays $13 an hour, and Target, which recently raised its entry-level wage to $11 an hour.

The average hourly wage for a full-time Walmart worker is $13.85, while the average hourly wage at Costco is about $24.50.

The initiative also highlights how Walmart’s broader push into the digital space hasn’t always been great for worker’s rights. The company has attempted to keep pace with the Silicon Valley giants now on the hunt to absorb seemingly every other industry. But as it’s acquired e-commerce companies, for fear of losing its share of the retail market, Walmart has passed along substantial increases in out-of-pocket health care expenses to its employees.


The same way CVS acquiring Aetna as a move to hedge against Amazon’s growth has caused fear, there’s a wider trend of already massive companies like Walmart getting even bigger to guard against the monopolies coming out of Silicon Valley.

“Other companies are responding to the power of tech by further consolidating,” Ro Khanna, an anti-trust Congressman from California recently told New York’s Select All. “We’re in this moment where, as these tech platforms are eating a growing share of commerce, other companies are feeling like they have to buff up in response to that, and so that is bad.”

As the monopolies fight for market share the workers get an app to learn financial responsibility; not a pay raise.