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Venmo and Cash App competitor Zelle is closing in on its $1 trillion payments volume target

  • Even though Zelle arrived to the market seven years later than its competitors, its adoption and growth has surpassed incumbents like Venmo. 
  • In 2023, Zelle enabled $806 billion in transaction volume across 120 million consumer and small-business accounts.

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Venmo and Cash App competitor Zelle is closing in on its $1 trillion payments volume target

In 2023, Zelle enabled $806 billion in transaction volume across 120 million consumer and small-business accounts. “In 2017, we launched Zelle and changed how Americans move money – we’re now on track to hit $1 trillion in 2024,” said Early Warning Services’ CEO, Cameron Fowler in a LinkedIn post. 

The last quarter of 2023 was the most successful in its relatively short history, with consumers transacting $219 billion across the Zelle Network. Zelle’s operator Early Warning Services reports that this translates to $100 million sent per hour.  

Despite its late start in 2017 behind Venmo and Cash App, Zelle has been able to build a name for itself in the P2P payments space largely because it benefitted from the bank network that Early Warning Services’ big bank owners and operators lent to it. Seven years later, Zelle’s adoption and growth have surpassed incumbents like Venmo. 

Line chart showing the annual payment volume in billions ($) for Zelle, Venmo and Cash App from 2016 to 2021. 

Zelle's trend line has a steeper upwards climb with a much higher annual payment volume than the competitors.
Source: Rex Salisbury

Although Zelle has often been seen as a P2P service to send and receive money between people, small businesses are starting to turn towards Zelle as well, with $113 billion transacted in payments by SMB owners last year, which was up 29% from 2022.

Late last year EWS hired Chief Strategy and Operations Officer for BMO Financial Group, Cameron Fowler as the company’s new CEO. At BMO Financial Group, Fowler led the bank’s enterprise transformation processes as well strategic direction, impact commitment and digital investments. 

Since his joining, the company has also launched a financial education campaign, in partnership with Vox Media, starring Christina Ricci. 

The ad campaign combined with a slightly gamified website aims to educate consumers about frauds and scams, as reports of Zelle-related fraud rise. The company reports that only one-tenth of one percent of transactions are reported as scams on the Zelle network. But despite these claims, regulators have been asking Zelle to come up with a reimbursement policy. The company announced banks on the Zelle network have started to refund customers if they have been scammed by a bad actor claiming to be a government agency, bank, or existing service provider. 

“This is us trying to move along the continuum to just make the platform safer for people. There is a point at which the conversation needs to move beyond reimbursement and stay incredibly focused on education, public policy and law enforcement, and we try to balance our energy across all of those categories,” said Cameron Fowler. 

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