One thing that Zelle has done well so far is to create a common experience. I believe this will go a long way to make it successful in further adoption. The Zelle network has access to a broad banking customer base, but the real trick is how to drive adoption and usage to create ubiquity. How do you create the experience that is as familiar and common as exchanging cash (or checks!) between parties?
This is ultimately the goal of real-time, digital, secure P2P payments—and the Zelle experience is leading the way here in partnership with the U.S. banking market. Zelle has created a common experience within the banks’ mobile and online banking applications that will presumably transcend into the Zelle app (at press time, the app has not been released). Zelle has driven a consistent interaction with guidelines and specifications that avoids ambiguity across banks.
Fundamentally, the experience is the same, regardless of your choice of financial institution, which creates a level of ubiquity and ease in the payment experience. It creates the familiarity to make this type of payment more readily accepted. It also helps consumers form habit—and habits create expectation, in this case the expectation of real-time payments between accounts.
The next piece in the puzzle is making consumers aware of this payment option—everyday people, not just payments geeks like me. ACI conducted a survey earlier in the year that indicates 81% of consumers and SMEs are not aware of real-time payments in the U.S. These results indicate there is a need for more education for this payment type to reach broader acceptance. So far, the banks and Zelle have been very successful at this—as evidenced by the high adoption rate mentioned earlier. As more consumers engage in real-time payments through Zelle’s payment experience, it will undoubtedly influence the expectations in businesses to also have this option. I look forward to seeing if the momentum going right now will continue. My bet is a strong YES.
If you’d like to continue the conversation around Zelle and real-time payments, stop by ACI’s booth (#521) at AFP, held in San Diego, October 15-18.