Well, it certainly took them long enough, but it looks like the largest financial institutions of the United States are finally up to the challenge of challenging Venmo, PayPal, and the other mobile payment services that have long made direct deposits or check writing between friends a thing of the past. On Sunday, 19 banks, regional lenders, and credit unions, including behemoths like JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., and Wells Fargo & Co., joined forces and unveiled Zelle, a money-transferring app of their own.
Debuted Sunday night at the Money 20/20 payments conference by app developer Early Warning, the app is built on a bank-owned payments network that joins five of the biggest banks in the U.S. (and other financial institutions as well). Using Zelle, customers ought to be able to send and receive payments to chosen recipients instantaneously … which, of course, sounds very familiar at this point.
It’s unclear as of yet exactly what differentiating factor Zelle will offer to entice users to choose this new app over more established players in the space. Perhaps the cachet of being associated with nearly 20 of the largest banks in the U.S. will be reason enough for some users to switch, as by early 2017, many of these institutions are expected to feature the Zelle name on both their mobile apps and websites.
Moreover, big banks already have a built-in user base, one that they hope Zelle will further connect. Of course, some banks were a bit further ahead of the game, and had previously established their own digital payment services. Chase, for example, has JPMorgan’s Quick Pay, but as Fortune reports, the plan is to “use the Zelle name prominently alongside their established names as Zelle catches on.”
So if you owe some friends some money, you’ll soon have yet another easy mobile option by which to pay them back come early next year.