NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Bank of America (BAC) plans to operate smaller branches, and fewer of them, while focusing instead on expanding less costly digital options for its customers.
While the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank does plan to expand its presence in some key markets, Dean Athanasia, the president of preferred and small business banking and co-head of consumer banking, said the company wants to double the number of digital transactions per day -- including deposits made via mobile devices, which already total $3 billion.
On Monday, JPMorgan Chase (JPM), which is tied with Bank of America for the greatest number of mobile-first customers, unveiled a fingerprint-identification banking app for the iPhone. The company plans to make a similar app available for Android devices later this year.
While Athanasia did not mention specific changes to his bank's existing mobile options, a spokesperson said afterward that the company is "always looking" at new initiatives on the digital front.
Adding branches in select markets, meanwhile, isn't an altogether new strategy for Bank of America. Last year, the company announced plans to open retail locations in new markets including Colorado and Minnesota. Before that, the last time the company opened a new retail branch was in 2003.
The bank also plans to add specialized employees to focus on products such as Merrill Edge, an offering from its Merrill Lynch business that allows customers to manage their own portfolios digitally or seek professional advice at a local branch.
"There's that interaction between the physical and digital worlds," Athanasia said. Last year, sales from Merrill Edge grew 20%, and they have increased 18% so far this year.