Emerging Trends: Commercial Banking Finally Wakes up and Realizes It is Being Disrupted

The New York Times recently had an interesting piece about the upcoming public launch of Zelle.  Zelle is a mobile peer to peer payment network technology that competes against Square Cash, Paypal, Apple Pay, and the popular Venmo app.  Basically you use your mobile device to send money to anyone given their email or phone number - no need to dig for change or have cash handy.

The technology here isn't revolutionary and has been around for a number of years - what I find interesting is that it took the established industry of retail banking 6+ years to role out a product like this.  Despite being owned by every big US bank (JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, etc.) it experienced a ton of delays and missed deadlines.  The industry has realized (potentially to late) that Fintech companies are rapidly gaining traction with younger consumers who prefer their offerings.  This is a textbook example of a incumbent industry fighting upstarts but being a bit behind the curve.  

However, Zelle is taking the right approach in my mind and leveraging its backers by not initially offering a stand alone app like its competitors but seamlessly embedding itself in the mobile banking apps of its backers using a standard consumer facing interface.  No need to start at a 0 install base when millions already use the banks' existing apps.  Zelle is also taking the next step ahead of its competitors of having money transfers be instantaneous with no delays for clearance.

Technologies like these are especially interesting to me as in places like Germany where credit is rarely used or trusted, or in emerging market countries where credit cards just aren't as widespread or available but everyone has a mobile device.  My prediction is that Zelle will turn out to be a great way to get less tech savvy and older generations using instantaneous mobile payments but that the damage has already been done with younger consumers already having entrenched loyalty to their platform of choice (i.e. Venmo, Apple Pay, etc.).