Zelle for Small Business—A Worthwhile Investment

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May 9, 2019

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Can Banks Monetize Their Zelle for Small Business Product?

Over 200 banks are participating in the Zelle Network now, and 85% of the participating banks are small banks or credit unions (1). Participating banks both big and small are not directly profiting from their retail bank’s Zelle offering, but instead, the product drives customer satisfaction. Banks are extending Zelle similarly to other free digital banking offerings, like bill pay and mobile check deposit, to stay competitive and relevant in the industry. Even Zelle’s largest competitor, Venmo (owned by PayPal), has not been profitable up to this point.

Good news, banks—there is a way to monetize your Zelle offering! Small businesses typically have higher expectations and more complex needs than the average consumer, and thus are more willing to pay fees for faster money movement. In fact, Early Warning has created new network rules for banks to easily implement Zelle for Small Business and many banks are already working towards a solution. The network will allow a business name to be linked to an email address or mobile phone number in order to participate in the Zelle service, just like with consumer customers today.

Why Would Small Businesses Pay for Zelle Services?

Small businesses tend to have less stable and more variable income, and these customers need improved cash flow and predictability on payments. The real-time money movement that Zelle offers helps small businesses have more control over their finances. Small businesses can use Zelle to pay their bills, make healthcare payments to their employees, pay contractors, or even use the product for invoicing. With Zelle, there is no need to worry about insufficient funds or unauthorized payment issues that typically arise from standard ACH payments.

You can also think of Zelle as a replacement for more traditional forms of payment, including cash, checks, or cards. According to Intuit, 55% of small businesses in the U.S. do not accept card payments (2)—Zelle offers a flexible alternative. When small businesses who do not accept cards have clients that don’t carry a checkbook or cash, they can easily request the amount required via Zelle and receive the money instantly.

Small businesses can even stop writing elusive checks and living with the uncertainty of not knowing when their recipients are going to cash out. With faster payments, small businesses will no longer worry about inflated balances, like they do with checks.

What About Zelle for Large Businesses?

Larger U.S. banks have been using Zelle as a method of digital disbursements for their corporate and government clients for a while now. When you think of digital disbursement use cases, think of large businesses who write mass quantities of checks, e.g., insurance claims, tax refunds, account refunds, overpayments, check replacement and jury duty.

The average cost for a corporate to write a paper check is $5.91 (3). When you multiply that cost by the number of checks sent, there is a huge opportunity to save money, increase efficiencies and reduce risk. Not only are checks expensive, but the businesses are accepting the risk of their checks getting lost or stolen. With Zelle, the sending business only needs to know the recipient’s email address or phone number to send a payment. No need to collect the recipient’s sensitive account information or take on the risk of storing that information in a database.

Zelle is a win-win for banks and businesses alike. Learn more about P2P payments and Zelle with Levvel’s recent P2P Payments webinar. You can also learn about real-time payments with Levvel’s new RTP vlog series. To see if your bank is ready for real-time payments, read Levvel’s 2020 readiness report and implementation considerations checklist.

References:

  1. https://www.zellepay.com/press-releases/zelle-ends-2018-its-strongest-quarter-record
  2. https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/getting-paid/cost-benefit-analysis-of-accepting-credit-cards-for-your-small-business/
  3. https://acom.com/cost-issuing-checks/

Authored By

Mary Meade

Business Analyst Consultant

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Meet our Experts

Mary Meade
Business Analyst Consultant

Mary Meade is a Business Analyst Consultant at Levvel, where she works with Fortune 500 companies on strategy and execution engagements. Before working at Levvel, she spent 6 years at Bank of America working on payments business and software development teams. While at Bank of America, she led the launch of Zelle. She has a B.S. in Engineering from Virginia Tech and is a self-proclaimed payments geek. Mary resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband, two boys and French bulldog.

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