The peer-to-peer payment system Zelle has become a popular way to transfer money during the pandemic. People avoid ATMs and replace cash and checks with digital money transfers. Zelle has many eyes on them right now, and it’s not just from consumers. According to Wall Street Journal, financial institutions are also keeping an eye out for them. So much so that institutions are debating a plan to bring Zelle to the checkout at big retailers.
Zelle has recorded nearly 1.8 billion transactions in 2021, totaling $490 billion, doubling their pre-pandemic levels. The company’s growth has opened new possibilities for Zelle but has also sparked disagreements among the banks that own the platform, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., and Wells Fargo. The tea is the banks are debating whether it is in their best interest to promote a payment option that would directly compete with card networks Visa and Mastercard. The financial institutions collectively earn billions of dollars each year from fees merchants pay when shoppers use credit and debit cards.
If Zelle became the new way to pay, banks would risk accessing the funds directly between shoppers’ and merchants’ bank accounts. Reports state Wells Fargo and Bank of America favor expanding the service to retail payments, according to industry insiders familiar with the matter. Currently, executives at JPMorgan, America’s largest bank, aren’t convinced the timing is right for a Zelle expansion. The company is urging more focus on protecting consumers from fraud, say, insiders. U.S. Bancorp and Capital One Financial Corp. are also undecided.
For Zelle to be used as a form of payment, Zelle’s owners have to vote before the service can be activated across all of the banks using the platform. Seven banks own Early Warning Services LLC, the company that operates Zelle, and around 1,450 financial institutions offer Zelle to their customers. The company has already added features that serve businesses and is “working with financial institutions to explore more opportunities,” said a spokeswoman for Early Warning Services said.
Roommates, do you think Zelle should be used to make payments for retailers?
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