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Your Checks are Good at Walmart.com

Wal-Mart, already in the business of renting DVDs and selling discount Internet access along with furniture on its Walmart.com Web site, is adding checking accounts to its online payment options.

The retailing giant said that, in response to its customers, it is now accepting checking account numbers from customers who don't want to use a credit card or perhaps don't have one.

The Arkansas-based Wal-Mart said the move is in response to Internet retail sales that are growing rapidly. The company doesn't release the numbers of visitors to its Web site, or how much revenue it generates, but Cynthia Lin, a Wal-Mart spokesperson, said the traffic on the site is growing.

Accepting checking account numbers from online customers "adds a new payment option for customers and opens the doors to a lot of potential customers who may not have signed in before," she said.

The process involves filling in the bank's routing number, checking account number, driver's license or ID card number and the shopper's date of birth. From there, a partner company, Certegy Check Services, creates an electronic funds transfer (EFT) or bank draft from the shoppper's bank. There is no charge for the funds transfer. But if the funds aren't there, it will cost the shopper $25.

"Many of our customers have told us they don't use credit cards or simply prefer to pay for merchandise with a check," said John Fleming, Walmart.com's president and chief executive.

Wal-Mart also offers a branded low-cost ISP to customers for $9.94 a month, which includes about 700 hours of dial-up access. Lin said the latest payment option on the Web site is part of its plans to integrate its online and offline retailing channels.

Our focus is complementing what the store does, and adding value to the customer shopping experience, she said. "We're adding product categories that complement the Wal-Mart experience," she said. For example, people can buy DVDs in the Wal-Mart stores, and can now rent them online, she said, referring to Wal-Mart's recent announcement that it now rents DVDs on its Web site -- a service that is competing with popular online movie rental site NetFlix.com.