A woman is standing with holiday decorations in the background and appears to be shopping while looking at her smartphone.
A woman is standing with holiday decorations in the background and appears to be shopping while looking at her smartphone.
December 16, 2019

Customers find ways to use Zelle in the holiday season

More consumers are using Zelle to send money as a gift to friends and family members during the holidays.

When Zelle® launched in 2017, Tammy Batchelor jumped at the chance to try it. Today, Zelle is part of her daily life — from splitting travel costs with her sister to gifting money for the holidays to her in-laws in California.

Tammy Batchelor and her son Zane Coley smile warmly as they stand together in their home in North Carolina.
Tammy Batchelor, right, and son Zane Coley are finding new ways to use Zelle during the holidays.

“It is so convenient to use,” said Batchelor, a Wells Fargo customer in eastern North Carolina. “It’s especially excellent for our family since we can send money to the family members we have all over the country. So I’m a big fan of Zelle.”

She is not alone. Tens of millions of U.S. customers have become Zelle users since it launched two and a half years ago. Half of all bank account customers in the U.S. now have access to Zelle in their banking app, the network reports. It processed 196 million transactions in third quarter 2019 alone, a year-over-year increase of 74%.

As users and transactions have increased, so have the ways people use Zelle, especially during the holidays, according to the 2019 Holiday Survey by Early Warning Services, LLC, the network operator behind Zelle. In addition to everyday tasks such as splitting a lunch tab, consumers are using Zelle for more day-to-day transactions, including splitting the cost of group gifts and gifting money, the survey said.

The love for money gifts

“Family and friends are most likely to come together and gift memorable experiences and opportunities this holiday season — over four out of five consumers (81%) have split the cost of a gift with someone else,” EWS’ survey said. “Women are slightly more likely to split the cost of a gift, with 83% having done so previously; men are close behind with 78% having split the cost of a gift for a friend or loved one.”

Another hot trend this holiday season is the increasingly popular gift of money, according to the survey. Sixty-five percent of survey respondents said they prefer to receive the gift of money this season to pay for experiences, bills, or personal spending.

The findings also highlight the role that Zelle can play in cash gifts: Nearly 72% said they would use a peer-to-peer (P2P) service, such as Zelle, to send money if they were late with a gift, and 61% would use a P2P service to send money as a gift to a family member.

An appeal across generations

Beyond the holidays, the overall popularity of Zelle should gain even more momentum in the coming years as more digitally savvy generations enter the banking system, said Adam Vancini, head of payments for Wells Fargo’s Deposit Products Group.

Wells Fargo’s latest figures already reflect Zelle’s dramatic year-over-year growth: Active users jumped 40% in mid-2019 and transactions rose 63%, he said.

“Among customers in all generations, Zelle is meeting a definitive need for convenience and ease of use in moving money,” Vancini said. “We are offering our customers the power of technology with the safety and security of traditional banking.”

Batchelor, the Wells Fargo customer, said using Zelle comes second nature now for her son, Zane Coley, 20. She said he experienced firsthand how it worked when she would use Zelle to send him gas money when he was in high school.

Like his mom, Coley said he’s a Zelle enthusiast and a Wells Fargo customer. He and his girlfriend are both enrolled in Zelle, and he uses Wells Fargo Bill Pay to pay their bills, Coley said.

“It’s awesome,” said the college student and electrician’s apprentice. “My girlfriend will send me her half of the bills, and I’ll pay them out of my account. It’s all done in a few minutes. Quick and no hassle. It’s great.”

Steps to a Zelle payment

Wells Fargo customers can sign on to Wells Fargo Online® or use the Wells Fargo Mobile® app.

  • Go to the Zelle tab. Enroll with Zelle by registering an email address or U.S. mobile number and linking it to an account.
  • Add or select a recipient, enter the amount, and choose an account to fund the transaction. Review and validate the details before you send it.
  • Your recipient is notified by email or text of the payment and receives instructions on how to receive it if action is needed.
  • If your recipient has not registered for Zelle, they’ll need to do that within 14 days before receiving the payment.
  • Once your recipient has registered, the money is deposited into the recipient’s account, often within minutes.
  • Caution: Remember to use Zelle only with people you know and trust. Do not click suspicious or unfamiliar links in texts or email.

Zelle and the Zelle related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.