March 26, 2013

American Express and Walmart announced that their Bluebird debit and checking accounts are now eligible for FDIC insurance, according to a statement released today by American Express. This will allow Bluebird account holders to receive government payments like social security payments and tax refunds through direct deposit, the statement said.

Bluebird is also going to offer pre-authorized check writing capabilities to its account holders, which will allow customers to balance their check book in real-time. Customers writing a check can get a pre-authorized code online or through Bluebird’s mobile app and the funds for that check are automatically deducted and withheld from the account until the check is deposited or cashed, helping the customer avoid any overdraft fees. The program’s new checking capabilities are built on American Express’ Serve platform.

[See Related: Walmart Takes on Banks]

The Bluebird account is designed for unbanked customers and brings many features of prepaid cards accounts to a debit and checking account. There are no monthly, annual or deposit fees for the account. Account holders can deposit checks remotely through the Bluebird mobile app and can deposit cash into the account at any Walmart register. The account also features mobile P2P payments and the ability to create and control sub-accounts for family members from a smartphone.

Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...