According to one of the Journal's sources, the name is meant to evoke "the speedy gazelle," but (name aside) Zelle is intended to be the banking industry's savior in the mobile payments space. The service has actually been available for some time under as clearXchange, but never saw much promotion. Although some banks offered the service to their users, it was buried within their proprietary mobile banking services and it lacked a dedicated app. Although it's not a bank itself, Venmo is owned by PayPal and works with most bank accounts or debit cards.
In 2015, clearXchange was acquired by Early Warning, a joint fraud protection operation owned by Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, JP Morgan Chase, US Bank and Wells Fargo. The newly branded Zelle, however, is expected to debut at a payments industry conference sometime in October. Their target, meanwhile, has quietly been expanding beyond person-to-person payments and rolling out new features like more third-party support to allow purchases from a variety of merchants.