Zelle: The Generation Gap in Mobile Payments is Declining

July 13, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

While Zelle is something of a newcomer to the mobile payments market, it’s definitely left its mark, and in a big way. It’s actually part of a growing trend in the field that’s seeing more users get involved in the mobile payments market, including some you might not have expected, like the baby boomers.

The word out of Zelle features both the expected and the unexpected. It revealed that 75 percent of millennials have made an online or mobile peer-to-peer (P2P) payment at some point. Generation X, meanwhile, wasn’t too far behind at 69 percent.

In a bit of a shock, the baby boomers managed to bring in 51 percent, a simple majority. Given that the top age of baby boomers is 74, it represents a fundamental change in the mobile payments market.

Use cases, meanwhile, vary wildly. Paying rent, sharing meals, splitting utility bills and sending gifts of cash are the biggest use cases, and Zelle shares a lot of this market with services like Venmo and PayPal, among others.

Zelle’s Ravi Loganathan, head of industry research, also pointed out one of the biggest points that’s making mobile payments so open to everyone by noting “What we are finding is that because you can send money instantly, consumers are using online transferring apps as effective cash management tools. It benefits consumers because they can have a real-time view of their cash flow, and it helps them to better manage their expenses, across all age groups.”

The sheer utility of mobile payments—which has actually come up from its earliest days of just being a cash surrogate—is what’s most likely to make mobile payments mainstream. Sure, there’s the whole gee-whiz factor of being able to wave your mobile phone at a checkout stand and walk away with goods, but that by itself cannot be the whole motive of mobile payments. It would never get beyond cash that way. But if it starts being useful for mobile payments, for bill payments, for sharing cash with friends…that’s a different matter.

Mobile payments’ utility is starting to come to the fore and bring new customers with it. Zelle’s numbers make this point crystal clear, but only time will tell if it can carry on.