Will Zelle’s Launch Push P2P to ‘Mainstream’?

AUSTIN, Texas — The long-awaited launch of P2P service Zelle has finally arrived, presumably granting more connectivity and openness to consumers who might be hunting for an alternative to Venmo.

But what does Zelle’s launch mean for those consumers who haven’t even heard of P2P?

“There’s a huge amount of effort that’s going on with our financial center partners to really help consumers understand how to use the functionality [of Zelle], what the benefits of it are,” Henry Agusti, digital banking executive for Bank of America, told Bank Innovation.  “As good as we know the functionality is, and as many customers are starting to use P2P more and more, we know there’s also a huge population of people who’ve never even tried it before.”

While BofA’s mobile app had been using a white-labeled version of Zelle for a few months at this point, it will now join the 12 banks which have the Zelle-branded experience for consumers by the end of this month.

Agusti likened this step forward with Zelle and P2P to the earlier days of online bill pay — an ubiquitous service now, if there ever was one, where innovators and banks had to work together to gain customers outside of early adopters.

The challenge for Zelle is to move from “millennial to mainstream,” said Lou Anne Alexander, group president of payment solutions for Early Warning, during the Digital Banking conference here yesterday. Zelle has access to more than 86 million consumers, Alexander pointed out.

The service aims to provide consumers with a branded experience across multiple channels, according to Peter Tapling, chief revenue officer for Early Warning, which is running Zelle.

“We’re trying to take those 86 million consumers with an in-bank experience, and turn them into champions for Zelle,” Tapling told Bank Innovation.

The consumer preference for using a P2P service in a bank’s app or in a standalone app is at a “50/50” split, according to data collected by Zelle — it varies by use case, or by when the consumer feels comfortable opening their bank app, Tapling said.

Zelle will launch its anticipated standalone Zelle app later in 2017, with that transition goal in mind.

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