U.S. Bank Removes Fees on Instant P2P Payments

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / sweetcrisisU.S. Bank has abruptly reversed course on charging for realtime payments via the clearXChange network.

Effective yesterday, U.S. Bank customers can make realtime P2P payments for free, just like the customers at the five other clearXchange member banks. Previously, U.S. Bank charged $6.95 for realtime payments and $2.95 for next-day payments.

As the network grew, U.S. Bank saw the need to offer the service for free, Gareth Gaston, executive vice president of omnichannel banking, said in a statement.

Customers’ demand for real-time, person-to-person payments is growing and the network is expanding – it’s a perfect demonstration of how the banking industry is working together to deliver safe and easy solutions for customers’ evolving financial preferences. U.S. Bank has long been a pioneer in innovative payment solutions and we remain focused on providing an exceptional customer experience wherever and however they want to send money securely to their family or friends.

U.S. Bank and Bank of America were the first members of clearXchange, which now also includes banking giants like Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, FirstBank, and, most recently, Wells Fargo. But USB was the only one in the bunch trying to “set a new standard” by charging per transaction.

Discussing the new service on an investor call in April, U.S. Bank CEO Richard Davis said:

The issue I want to bring before you, though, and our investors is, whether you get paid for this? And there’s already a bit of a discord between us and the other bank that came out with one of the real-time payments, P2P, where we are charging for it and they are not. We have to make sure that the business of banking doesn’t become a utility in the minds of the consumers where they expect everything to come without a value price to it. And we are hoping that we’ll be able to help set the standard for that. But that’s my hope. And then there’ll be plenty more opportunities to hear what consumers and the businesses want delivered to them. And frankly, I think we’ll surprise them.

But it seems U.S. Bank may have been surprised by customer feedback. In the age of PayPal and Venmo, with their large and growing userbases (and appealing emojis), charging for an instant payments service doesn’t seem sustainable.

U.S. Bank and Regions were among the only banks to monetize mobile banking with fees for faster access to funds from checks deposited via mobile. It appears this fee will remain, per the bank’s website.

Real-time payments are “necessary” in the constantly changing payments environment, Ben Soccorsy, head of digital payments for Wells Fargo Virtual Channels told Bank Innovation. Wells Fargo joined the network last week. “We believe that the clearXchange partnership and member banks have clear and distinct value propositions,” Soccorsy said. “Overall, the goal is to bring other banks into the network, and drive to more ubiquitous participation.”

Ubiquitous participation means the service should be the same from bank to bank — and that apparently means it must be free.

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