Wells Fargo is bringing payments to the front of its banking app
- Wells Fargo rolled out Pay with Wells Fargo, a feature that lets customers carry out mobile payments from the app home screen
- Pay with Wells Fargo simplifies the mobile payment experience for customers and enhances brand visibility
Wells Fargo wants its app to be the center of all of its customers' mobile payment transactions -- even if they're not using Wells cards. "Pay with Wells Fargo" lets mobile app users make payments right from the home screen, eliminating the need to navigate screen menus. Customers can send Money through Zelle, use their mobile wallet of choice and cardless ATM access code. They can also carry out mobile check deposits and money transfers. The bank unveiled it at its Investor Day Thursday. Pay with Wells Fargo will roll out as an employee beta next month before launching to the public later this year. "Our usage data shows that customers want the added convenience of bringing their most frequently used payments features together in one place in order to better align with their on-the-go lifestyles and financial needs," Ben Soccorsy, head of the digital payments product team for Wells Fargo Virtual Channels, said in an emailed statement. Wells wants to simplify the mobile payment experience and facilitate a range of different payment behaviors from the app, including bills, peer-to-peer payments and digital wallet purchases -- effectively putting its name on payments its customers make from non-Wells providers. By striving to become customers' preferred payment vehicle, Wells is responding to instances where customers stop associating payments with the bank brand and instead with their mobile wallet of choice. The feature lets Wells make its brand a more visible part of customers' mobile payment experiences by reinforcing customers' connection with Wells as their primary financial services provider. It's a two-pronged play, said Peter Wannemacher, a principal analyst at Forrester. "When customers stop associating the bank brand with the ability to pay for stuff, that's dangerous -- banks would much rather play a relevant role in individuals' lives," Wannemacher said. "They're rightly trying to remove friction, and enhance the customer experience of using mobile payments. It's a reverse engineering of the disruption that's happened with banks. [They think] 'We'll get in front of the customer as they make their choice of the most convenient option for paying.'" Wells is the most recent among major banks launching features to help customers get an overarching view of their financial behavior -- even if it means pulling in other institutions' products. For example, last week, HSBC launched its "Connected Money" app, which lets customers view accounts from all providers in one place, and Citi recently announced plans to revamp its mobile app, which will be available even to non-Citi customers who want to aggregate external accounts for better PFM capabilities. Wells Fargo has 29 million "digital active" users, of which 22 million are "mobile active," according to the bank. Pay with Wells Fargo is part of a bigger strategy to give Wells customers a 360-degree view of their financial footprint, said Emmett Higdon, director of digital banking at Javelin Strategy and Research. Pay with Wells Fargo will work alongside the bank's "Control Tower" capability that will track all transactions, payment-connected devices, cards on file and recurring subscriptions from within the app. "It's a convenient way of allowing the customer to manage what is quickly becoming a very complex online and e-commerce space," Higdon said. By keeping customers' payment transactions within the app, Wells also can use customer data to personalize the interactions. Longer-term plans for the feature include customization according to customer use patterns, donations to charities and personalized offers from participating merchants.