One Year After Rollout, Banks Are Bullish on Zelle

EXCLUSIVE—The growth of person-to-person payment network Zelle has been a key topic for banks and additional financial institutions since the service officially rolled out a year ago.

As many companies reported their third quarter earnings for 2017, Zelle has been a reccurring topic not only at banks, but at  payments companies, and other financial service providers, with most of them reporting strong growth in transaction volume and P2P transactions.

For instance, financial services software provider Fiserv reported P2P transactions grew 20% for the quarter during its earnings call yesterday, with Chief Financial Officer Bob Hau noting that “Zelle transaction growth is strong, albeit off of a very small base, and we remain optimistic about the near to mid-term growth potential for P2P.”

Fiserv CEO Jeff Yabuki said on the call:

While still early in the decision, implementation and adoption cycle, we remain encouraged by the market enthusiasm for Zelle and expect to see measurable growth in 2018 and well into the future.

Fiserv’s positive outlook is reflected by FIs  — many of them Fiserv customers — during their 3Q earnings reports. Below is a brief collection of what other banks have said of the service during the close of the third quarter:

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon did not mention Zelle directly, but noted that P2P was doing “quite well.”

Brain Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, said:

In this quarter, Zelle came forward, the latest offering we have in mobile area. Bank of America’s volumes alone, our volumes through Zelle this quarter were $4 billion in the third quarter… Our customers are using Zelle and we look forward to further growth in that area.

Tim Sloan, CEO for Wells Fargo, said:

Since launching the Zelle person-to-person experience in June, we’ve seen significant growth in both the number of transactions and the dollar sent. In the third quarter, P2P payment sent by our customers increased 46% from a year ago.

Meanwhile, others like Provident Financial Services are just started the move to Zelle, which will be done for Provident in the first quarter of 2018 according to the company’s most recent earnings. Chief Financial Officer Tom Lyons said of the decision:

…I’m just thinking about the decision to move to Zelle, and then we analyzed the number of folks in our customer base that are using our existing person-to-person payment models and as well as the folks who we can see who’s paying through Venmo and Square.  And then certainly, a desire to continue to use that one, and we want to make sure we stay in front and have them see Provident when they make their payments and then continue to think about us.

SunTrust and BB&T also mentioned Zelle in a positive light on recent calls with investors. The banks’ response to the growth of the Zelle network follows positive statistics from the service itself, which reported 100 million transactions in September 2017 totaling $33.6 billion.

While banks remain optimistic about the spread of the service, Zelle’s largest competition, P2P app Venmo, has also continued to grow by adding new features and capabilities like its upcoming physical card. It has been pointed out that Venmo users have little incentive to switch to Zelle, so companies offering Zelle are counting on growing internal adoption to keep pace.