Nineteen banks – including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo – have launched a website and app called Zelle that lets users send and request money more easily.
The aim behind the service is to take back the person-to-person payments business that has previously been dominated by third-party payment apps such as Venmo. Features allow users to split restaurant and utility bills, along with enabling business-to-consumer payments – such as insurance companies paying out claims to customers.
Zelle is being rolled out in phases to avoid disrupting the banks' previous systems, with the first phase seeing existing bank payment apps incorporating the service's options and basic design. In February 2017, Bank of America was the first to include all of the functions into its own mobile app. By mid-2017, all the banks' apps will have Zelle branding and a standalone app will also be available.
When completely launched, the service will be one of the largest faster payments networks in the US, accessible to over 76 million mobile banking users nationwide. "Zelle provides security, removes friction and achieves ubiquity by being available and usable for consumers no matter where they bank," said Talie Baker, an analyst who specialises in person-to-person payments at US research firm Aite Group.