What’s The Best Mobile Payment Platform: Zelle, Venmo, Square or Apple Pay?

Digital wallets and P2P payments are fast becoming table stakes for banking providers that want to remain relevant with today's digital consumers. But which one should your financial institution offer?

Multiple studies conclude younger generations know about mobile payments, but don’t care much about them — a service such as Venmo being the rare exception. After watching Venmo dominate the mobile peer-to-peer (P2P) payment transfer market for the past few years, banks decided to do something about it, and Zelle was born. Banks have invested heavily in perfecting the technology and promoting the service, but consumer awareness and adoption continue to lag.

Members of the bank consortium that runs Zelle — including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America — are spending millions of dollars on ads to attract their existing customers to the mobile payment app. Zelle, which is already installed on bank customers’ phones (part of their mobile apps), is available to 95 million current bank customers versus Venmo’s user base that totals around 3.5 million. However, the Zelle brand” — aka its “cool factor” — remains practically non-existent.

A quick review on the basics: a payment app is simply a service that allows consumers to send money to another person (often by email or mobile phone number) via an app, or sometimes a website. This process is commonly referred to as “peer-to-peer” or “person-to-person” money transfer apps, or simply “P2P apps” or “payment apps.”

People are often under the impression that all payment transfers happen instantly, but it’s important to realize that many times they do not. Each major mobile payment app has its own advantages and limitations. Most payment apps use a digital wallet method of transfer, meaning when you send money, it delivers the payment to a digital wallet, after which the recipient transfers the money from the wallet into his personal account. You can think of the wallet as a virtual escrow account.

The following is a brief comparison of the mobile payment services available today.

Zelle

Zelle is peer-to-peer payment system targeting mobile majority as an alternative to cash and checks..

  • Payment transactions occur within minutes, which is faster than other apps, like Venmo.
  • Online banking customers who have accounts at participating banks can send money to anyone.
  • The Zelle app is already a feature within existing bank apps.
  • You only need someone’s email address or cell phone number to send money.
  • Recipients who don’t bank with Zelle partners can use standalone app to claim their money by downloading the app in Apple Store and Google Play.
  • There are no fees to send, request, or receive money.
  • You can only cancel a payment if the recipient hasn’t enrolled with Zelle, otherwise it goes directly into their bank account.

Venmo

Venmo is peer-to-peer payment system most popular amongst Millennials.

  • Transactions take days to process.
  • Anyone can use the app after setting up an account.
  • You only need someone’s email address or cellphone number to send money.
  • Request or pay other users and add a note or emoji as the transaction description.
  • You can share the transaction via social media if you like.
  • When you cash out” the money that friends have paid into your Venmo account, it typically takes 1 to 3 business days to receive your funds.
  • There are no fees to send, request, or receive money via bank transfers and debit card.
  • Using a credit card for payment will cost 3 percent per transaction.
  • Know the recipient before sending, as you can’t cancel payments made to wrong users.

Square Cash

Square Cash, or the Cash app, is a peer-to-peer payment system targeting younger generations.

  • Transactions occur within minutes or days at your choice.
  • Anyone can use the app after setting up an account.
  • You only need someone’s email address or cell phone number to send money.
  • An optional debit card associated with your account can be used for purchases.
  • Users have the option to automatically deposit received funds directly into a linked bank account.
  • The app can also be used for business transactions to accept payments for good or services.
  • There are no fees to send, request, or receive money (for person-to-person transactions via bank transfers and debit card).
  • Requesting instant deposit (instead of 1 to 3 business days) will incur a fee equal to 1 percent of the deposit amount.
  • Using a credit card for payment will cost 3 percent per transaction.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay Cash is a peer-to-peer payment system that acts like a bank account on your phone, targeting Venmo users.

  • Transactions occur in days.
  • The app is easy to use, but both the sender and recipient must have an
  • iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch with iOS11.2/watchOS 4.2 installed.
  • Spend money on your Apple Pay Cash card the app store, or at retailers that accept Apple Pay.
  • You need to authenticate each payment made via Apple Pay Cash with Face ID on
  • iPhone X or Touch ID on other iPhone/iPad models.
  • There are no fees to send, request, or receive money via bank transfers and debit card.
  • Using a credit card for payment will cost 3 percent per transaction.

So which mobile payment method is the right one for your financial institution? Which one will resonate with your audience best? The market is competitive, and each offering carries its own unique features and benefits. Most banks and credit unions will choose based on mobile preference, cool factor, convenience, and the familiarity (or level of trust) key constituencies will have with a particular platform — e.g., if the C-suite at your financial institution has heard of Venmo, that may end up being the platform you go with. Whatever your priorities, there’s a mobile payment option out there for you.

This article was originally published on March 20, 2018. All content © 2018 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

Comments

  1. Nice article but what stopped you from acknowledging that Zelle processes double the payment volume of Venmo despite the fact that Venmo has been around for 8 more years? (Source: https://twitter.com/s_ketharaman/status/963329464531865601). Whether it’s cool or not is subjective but going by objective numbers, Zelle has clearly stolen a match over Venmo. And your failure to mention that unfortunately casts a shadow on your whole article.

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