Zelle takes on Venmo from within your bank's app

Even fewer reasons to carry cash anymore.

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Cherlynn Low
June 12, 2017 2:17 PM
Zelle website (Screenshot)
Zelle website (Screenshot)

From Venmo and PayPal to Facebook Messenger, Google Wallet and even iMessage, there are plenty of ways to send money to your friends online. But these all require your contacts to have accounts set up to receive funds, which often causes friction when you're using different services or they don't want to download new apps. A new tool called Zelle should solve that problem. It works with more than 30 major US banks to allow interbank transfer from within each company's app, so you or your friends don't have to set up new profiles or crowd up your already-cluttered phones with more downloads.

Zelle will be available in the apps of US financial institutions starting this week and over the next 12 months. The list of participating banks so far is impressively comprehensive, including bigger companies like Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Capital One, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Citi, TD Bank as well as regional brands like Bank of Hawaii, First Tennessee Bank, Frederick County Bank and Bank of the West. For the full list, check out Zelle's website here. If your bank hasn't signed on yet, you can still use Zelle by signing up with digital payments network clearXchange. Once you have the service, you can pay your contacts using either their email address or phone number.

Since existing options within bank apps only let you send money to people who have accounts with them, Zelle could make future transfers much easier. If you and your friends already have Venmo or Wallet set up, this may seem like yet another redundant option. But for those who have yet to hop aboard the digital payments bandwagon, this is a more-convenient way to send funds online and avoid sharing your banking information with a third-party service. Now if only international transfers could be as easy.

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