Mobile - Frank M. Rafik

Zelle Drops Word on Its Mobile Payments Progress

April 26, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Just a while ago, we got word from Venmo on its progress in the mobile payments sector, and there was hardly any reason to be ashamed by the gains it’s posted so far. However, at right about the same time, Zelle—perhaps Venmo’s biggest competitor—also dropped word about its progress, and it’s delivered a serious drubbing to Venmo on several fronts.

The comparison is somewhat grim, until you remember how well Venmo did objectively. While Venmo was the only one to reveal its monthly active user rates—Zelle didn’t mention such in its release on the subject—the numbers we do have are noteworthy.

While Venmo posted a first quarter payment volume of $21 billion, Zelle’s first quarter payment volume came in almost double that at $39 billion. That $39 billion came from the result of 147 million transactions, which puts the average transaction amount at somewhere around $265.31. Additionally, Zelle reported that payment values were up 54 percent on average, and payment volume increased 72 percent.

Zelle points to its “Everyday Better” campaign for at least some of the gains, as the marketing presents a variety of people engaged in a variety of situations, all of which can be addressed by Zelle. These include things like paying rent, offering a quick gift for graduations or birthdays, paying for brunch, or chipping in for a family reunion.

While Zelle has had some problems recently—when I went checking YouTube for examples of the Everyday Better campaign, I ran into plenty of anti-Zelle videos featuring words like “risky” and “fraud”—it’s also clearly made sufficient inroads to gain and keep a substantial following. That’s no mean feat, especially with the numbers of alternatives out there, so it’s clear that a hefty number of people find Zelle sufficiently safe, and sufficiently worthwhile, to stick with it.

That’s good news for Zelle. In a field where Wells Fargo is intensively under the microscope to the point where it had to declare itself “re-established” in 2018, a clear winner with users and money-maker like Zelle could be a saving grace for large banks. The sheer number of transactions—and likely users—involved suggests Zelle will have the catbird seat for some time to come, and should make the most of it accordingly.