Banking

Banks are rolling out new rival for Venmo. Here’s when it will hit your app.

In this file photo, Alex Culbertson, 26, shows transactions via the Venmo app on his smartphone. Big banks are rolling out a Venmo rival called Zelle.
In this file photo, Alex Culbertson, 26, shows transactions via the Venmo app on his smartphone. Big banks are rolling out a Venmo rival called Zelle. AP

Bank of America and Wells Fargo are among the U.S. banks rolling out a new money-transfer service in coming weeks that’s designed to compete with Venmo and other payment apps.

The service, called Zelle, has been in the works for month, but it will soon become more widely available in the mobile apps that bank customers already use to check balances and deposit checks. The person-to-person payments network, developed by a bank-owned company called Early Warning Services, will be available to more than 86 million mobile bank customers beginning this month.

Zelle is an effort by big banks to regain territory lost to non-bank payment services such as PayPal’s Venmo, which allow users to send each other money for rent, restaurant checks and anything else.

Venmo has become particularly popular with younger users and includes social media features. Tech giant Apple last week announced a money-transfer service that will zip money through texts.

Banks have been developing various person-to-person payment services for years, but they haven’t gained the buzz of other rivals. One advantage of Zelle is that it will be part of existing apps.

More than 30 banks, including the likes of JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, will begin debuting the service over the next 12 months. Early Warning Services also has relationships with various payments processors, which will allow additional community banks and credit unions to offer the program.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo announced this week that it will make Zelle available June 24 to its 28 million mobile and online customers. Customers can send money using a recipient’s mobile phone number or email address, and funds will be available typically within minutes, the bank said.

“The rollout of Zelle at banks across the country represents an advance in the speed, connectivity and security of P2P payments,” said Brett Pitts, head of digital for Wells Fargo virtual channels in a statement.

Charlotte-based Bank of America first introduced the features of Zelle into its mobile app in February, but the purple Zelle branding will become noticeable in starting June 28. Bank of America says it has 22 million active mobile users.

Other banks that have a Charlotte presence will also be deploying Zelle in coming months.

Fifth Third said it will join the network June 23, while PNC said it will launch in coming weeks. SunTrust is targeting the third quarter of this year, and Ally Financial expect to go live later this year. BB&T said it will share more details in coming months.

While Zelle will be more widely available in coming weeks, it’s already moving money. In the first quarter of the year, more than 51 million transactions totaling more than $16 billion flowed through the network.

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker

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