Bank of America is to offer customers instant overdrafts by sending them a text message when a debit card transaction takes them into the red.
The US bank, which currently rejects debit card transactions that would take customers over their limit, says the programme will give consumers more control over their financial affairs. The text will offer customers the option to over-ride the rejection in return for accepting an overdraft fee.
Speaking at the RBC Capital Markets financial institutions conference in Boston, Laurie Readhead, BofA's retail segments executive, said the pilot will run in the first quarter of next year.
"We think this is a much better approach, to let the customer choose," Readhead told assembled analysts.
She also elaborated on the bank's ongoing branch closure programme, saying more locations would be downsized or cut from the bank's 5900-strong retail franchise and that some stand-alone operations would be replaced with video ATMs.
In July 2009, the bank announced plans to close around 10% of its branches in response to shrinking customer demand as people turn to online and mobile banking. It has also begun pilot trials of video conferencing in Los Angeles and Washington, with customers talking to Merrill associates in New Jersey, Florida and Arizona.