Zelle payment volumes jump by 57% year over year

While sending funds through Venmo is so common it’s a verb, bank-backed peer-to-peer payments tool Zelle is quickly picking up adoption. On Tuesday, Early Warning Services, the network operator behind Zelle, claimed consumers across generations are adopting its service for everyday purchases, not just larger transactions like rent payments.

The company said $44 billion spread over 171 million transactions was sent through Zelle during the second quarter of 2019. This would indicate an average payment value of about $257.31 for the quarter, down from $280 in the same quarter of last year. However, year-over-year payment values on Zelle increased by 57% from $28 billion, while transaction volume increased by 71% from 100 million transactions.

Additionally, Early Warning said there currently are 179 institutions processing transactions on the Zelle network, with more than 300 other institutions in the queue.

While adoption of Zelle appears to be growing, that doesn’t necessarily mean customers are jumping ship from apps like PayPal-owned Venmo or Square’s Cash App, argued Ron Shevlin, research director at Cornerstone Advisors, in a recent interview with Bank Innovation. Regardless, Early Warning is touting its growth among partner institutions.

“More than 64% of U.S. demand deposit accounts will have access to Zelle through the 480 financial institutions contracted to join the Zelle network,” said Al Ko, CEO of Early Warning, in a statement. “We continue to see double-digit increases in new customer wins each month, demonstrating continued demand for Zelle from national and regional banks and credit unions.”

Bank of America‘s 8 million Zelle users accounted for about 40% of Zelle’s overall payment value and transaction volume for the second quarter. BofA customers sent $18 billion over 69 million transactions through Zelle, up from $10 billion over 35.2 million transactions during the same quarter of last year, according to the bank’s latest earnings report.

Whether Zelle’s numbers can even be compared to those of Venmo or Cash App is still a subject of debate. “A lot of BofA’s Zelle volume is simply a migration of existing account-to-account transfers to Zelle,” said Shevlin.

PayPal’s second-quarter earnings report, which is likely to include updates on Venmo, is expected to be released Wednesday.