- Zelle, a peer-to-peer money transfer app built by the company Early Warning and backed in part by some of the country’s biggest banks — including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Bank of America — got an official announcement and expected launch window at the Money20/20 payments conference, according to Recode.
- The long-rumored Zelle will roll out early next year as a competitor to other peer-to-peer money transfer services like Square Cash, PayPal and Venmo, which PayPal owns.
- The new app is built on a payments network that connects many of the major banks supporting it, per Recode. Zelle hopes to further distinguish itself from the competition through features like free instant deposits, which few other services in the space offer.
It will be a surprise if Zelle can cut a clear path into the highly competitive peer-to-peer money transfer market, where better established apps like Square Cash, which has been around since 2013, continually struggle to find ways to monetize. As Recode additionally notes, Venmo is now so ubiquitous that it's become the go-to verb for payments among young demos — as in millennials "venmo" each other — so it’s doubtful anyone will be “zelling” their roommate for rent any time soon.
Zelle’s two big advantages lie in its established infrastructure — the app's first commercial touts how 100 million people are already connected on it through the built-in bank network — and the expediency of the service. Banks could also potentially draw new users into the P2P space with whom they already have a trust-based relationship.
But it remains to be seen if Zelle's practical edge will be enough of an advantage to beat an established and continually growing brand like Venmo. After all, Reuters recently reported Venmo facilitated $4.9 billion worth of peer-to-peer transfers in the the past three months alone, a 131% increase over the year ago period.
That doesn't mean Venmo has let its guard down: In anticipation of the big corporate competition, the PayPal-owned service launched its first major ad campaign in September, reminding users to ‘pony up’ for payments through a clever commercial spot and things like Snapchat filters.
Despite official launch being months away, Zelle is now publishing its own video ads on its website, and consumers should expect to see a more concentrated marketing push to generate buzz for Zelle heading into 2017.