How the pandemic is propelling Zelle

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The pandemic’s physical distancing requirements appear to have accelerated transaction volume and overall use of Zelle, the P2P app operated by the bank-owned Early Warning Services LLC.

During the first six months of this year — when many consumers were confined to their homes due to local quarantines — Zelle routed $133 billion through its network on 519 million transactions, up more than 60% over $83 billion sent during the first two quarters of 2019, Early Warning said Tuesday.

Enrollment in Zelle rose 17% over a year earlier, and the number of Zelle users who sent a payment within the last 90 days is up 43% over a year earlier, indicating a rise in repeat transactions.

Transaction values also rose 60%, Zelle said, noting that in addition to friends and family repaying one another, a growing number of consumers are using Zelle to share costs for utilities and rent.

Early Warning also saw an immediate uptick in Zelle payment and transaction volume following distribution of the government’s pandemic-relief stimulus checks sent earlier this year.

Three years after Zelle’s 2017 launch, small businesses are now seeing growing transaction volume from Zelle, Early Warning said. Seven financial institutions now enable about a third of U.S. small businesses to accept payments with Zelle, according to the release.

“Consumers across all generations have embraced Zelle during these challenging times as a contact-free way to safely exchange funds,” Lou Anne Alexander, Early Warning’s chief product officer, said in a press release.

Early Warning has 924 financial institutions committed to add Zelle, almost double the number contracted a year ago. About 500 of those are already online with Zelle, up from 254 that were live a year ago.

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