Zelle by Early Warning

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Zelle by Early Warning: Insights

Zelle is a person-to-person (P2P) payment service provider that delivers a fast, safe, and easy way to send money. Its parent company, Early Warning Services (EWS) is a fraud detection service provider that analyzes consumer banking behaviors for financial institutions, government entities, and payment companies. Insights into their business models, current user status, and the relationship between the two companies are as below.





  • Unlike other services, Zelle is backed by big banks. Eighteen banks in the United States, including most of the biggest players, are using Zelle, and 70 more are setting it up. Summed together, they represent about half of the checking accounts in the country.
  • It is estimated that thousands of new users sign up every day. Most users are from existing bank clients. In Q1 2019, Zelle had 147 million transactions with a total worth of worth $39 billion.
  • While offering a service similar to Venmo and Square, Zelle mentioned that their largest competition is still “checks and cash”. Consumers moved more than $172 billion in funds to other people through their banks in 2018. Compared to that, Zelle still has a relatively small market share.



  • Early Warning Services (EWS), is a fintech consortium jointly owned by seven of the US' largest banks. They have been providing network intelligence, such as consumer reports, to assist financial institutions in preventing fraud throughout the United States for almost three decades.


  • While EWS did not have huge brand recognition in the public domain, it is well regarded in the financial services industry as a security provider.
  • EWS provides specific services to serve financial institutions' identification, authentication, and payment needs. They find and report fraudulent activity associated with checking and savings accounts. Examples of such activities are bank fraud, forgery, counterfeit checks, check alteration, and check kiting.
  • A typical record from EWS will include personal information, account information, such as checking and savings account history and activity, bank’s name(s), account number(s), opening and closing dates of account(s), balance and status information, transactions, and any inquiries made by entities wishing to see the consumer’s report.
  • A “deposit score” is also provided to estimate the consumer’s risk level for opening new accounts. Having a negative item on your EWS record can make it more difficult to do business with some organizations.


  • EWS’s network includes 2,500 financial institutions, government entities, and payment companies. Their partners include 45 of the top 50 financial institutions.


  • EWS is best known as the owner and operator of the Zelle Network.
  • Zelle, formally clearXchange was a bank-owned venture launched in 2011 to streamline US P2P payments. The service is orientated to serve banks more than consumers, was fairly outdated, and its design and features varied at each bank.
  • EWS acquired ClearXchange in 2015, with the intent to build a real-time platform that integrated its fraud prevention services, authentication capabilities, and bank network. The acquisition gathered enough influence and resources to build a platform that other banks couldn’t ignore.
  • EWS introduced Zelle as that platform in 2017, a real-time platform that integrated the key services under a unified consumer brand. It was built atop clearXchange’s infrastructure, featured EWS services and drew on some of Venmo’s popular features. Today, clearXchange is migrating to become part of Zelle, claiming such a move will not only enable easy and safe payments but make them faster.
  • EWS claims involvement in processing the $100+ million through Zelle each quarter.

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Zelle by Early Warning: Marketing

The insights into Zelle's marketing are related to marketing practices, advertisements, advertising strategies, and marketing challenges. Zelle's "Everyday Better" campaign has been identified as one of the insights. More details are in the findings below.


  • Zelle focuses most on aided awareness among its target audience.
  • It also regularly monitors transactions, enrollments, and sales volume growth in the network.
  • During its introduction, the first marketing practices in 2018 were more focused on promotion through awareness and, therefore, targeted all channels, including print and TV.
  • Currently, the focus is on channels that can reach consumers in their daily lives.
  • Zelle is in out of home in a few markets and will be on radio and cinema.
  • It also uses social and digital media. Working with streaming publishers such as Hulu is also useful for creating awareness and reaching consumers directly.
  • According to Melissa Lowry, Zelle's VP of marketing and branding, the market position is obtained through partnerships with institutions that help to get the name out.
  • Zelle does its campaigns and also partners with credit unions and banks to give them messaged to reach customers.
  • People can hear about Zelle from institutions that they already know and trust, helping with awareness.


  • Zelle's campaign titled "Everyday Better" from Huge Brooklyn features several ads and plays around with yearbook-photo type visuals to portray use examples for its service. It is the most recent campaign.
  • The “Everyday Better” 2019 Zelle marketing campaign uses every day Person-to-Person (P2P) use cases to drive more profound levels of awareness.
  • It was launched in March 2019 and continued through to the end of September 2019.
  • In about 30 and 15 second spots running online, the characters who appear in the videos are ready to have their photos taken.
  • However, they start to say that they would like to have their money wired to them through Zelle rather than provided in the form of gifts or checks.
  • The campaign contained several ads that were tailored for different circumstances in people's daily lives.
  • These ads highlight moments that appeal to a wide variety of people who have been dissatisfied when receiving sub-par gifts.
  • Ads tap into occasions such as graduations, birthdays, family reunions, and brunch.

1. Graduation
  • In the graduation ad, a check is given as a graduation gift, and the recipient highlights the struggle of having to deposit the check and wait for it to mature.
  • She says that she wishes she could check her bank account and find money sent with Zelle instead.
  • The ad ends with the words "Gift better. Send money with Zelle."
2. Rent
  • The speaker says that rent is the only reason the viewer checks and that they should instead send rent to their landlord using Zelle.
  • It ends with the words "Rent better. Send money easily with Zelle.
3. Chocolate
  • This ad is about gifting. A man is given chocolate as a gift, and he says that next time, he would rather be sent money with Zelle, then he can but his gift.
  • The ad ends with the words "Gift better. Send money with Zelle."
4. Roomies


  • The "Everyday Better" campaign is the current strategic marketing choice.
  • With this strategy, ads appear online and in mobile and are more about explaining the opportunities to use Zelle, which are also available within most mobile banking apps.
  • The advertising strategy is focused on trying to thread the needle in appealing to an older demographic who might think that Zelle is retro, and a younger demographic who feels that it's fun.
  • The use of the color purple turns the campaign into more of Silicon Valley than Wall Street.
  • The strategy reaches people across their daily behaviors (commute, programs and content consumed, and social media channels).
  • Melissa Lowry, Zelle's VP of marketing and branding, said that the campaign is a direct reflection of Zelle's promise: When money moves, life happens.
  • The Everyday Better campaign is a continuation of Zelle's brand story.
  • The top 3 use cases highlighted are paying rent, gifting, and splitting bills, which appeal to most people.


  • Zelle's marketing challenges are caused by the indifference to its services by some potential users.
  • Some people believe that their money transaction needs are being fulfilled using other mechanisms.
  • Others think that cards are more secure, while others prefer to use an old-fashioned plastic card.
  • Even though Zelle has become popular among young users, its popularity among the older generation is still minimal.
  • This calls for the use of expensive television ads to make consumers aware that they already have Zelle in their banking app.
  • Small banks have no budgets for national campaigns for Zelle and they have to look for unique techniques.
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Zelle by Early Warning: Demographic Analysis

The average Zelle user is likely to be an employed white female between the ages of 30 and 38 who is married, has an income of $75,000 or higher, lives in a metropolitan area in the South, and has at least some college education. Additional details of these demographics are below.


  • Based on a study conducted by Cornerstone Advisors in the fourth quarter of 2018, the generation that has the greatest uptake (20%) of Zelle is the older millennial generation, which encompasses ages 30-38.
  • Following older millennials, generation X (ages 39-53) is the generation with the second-most adopters at 14%.
  • Young millennials (ages 21-29) have adopted Zelle at a rate of 11% and baby boomers (ages 54-72) have a 5% Zelle adoption rate.
  • However, baby boomers send the most money using Zelle at an average of $270 per transaction.
  • Generation X again comes in second, sending an average of $164 per Zelle transaction, followed by older millennials, who send an average of $94 per Zelle transaction, and young millennials, who send an average of $25 per Zelle transaction.
  • Seniors are the least likely to embrace any kind of peer-to-peer (P2P) payment app.


  • Approximately 39% of mobile payment users have incomes of at least $75,000.
  • The income breakdown of mobile payment users is as follows.
    • 10% of users have an income of $10,000 or less.
    • 8% of users have an income of between $15,000 and $24,999.
    • 25% of users have an income of between $25,000 and $49,999.
    • 17% of users have an income of between $50,000 and $74,999.
    • 15% of users have an income of between $75,000 and $99,999.
    • 24% of users have an income of $100,000 or more.


  • Females use mobile payments more often than males at 53% to 47%.


  • Of mobile payment users, 36% have at least a college degree.
  • The breakdown of the educational level of mobile payment users is as follows.
    • 8% of users have less than a high school education.
    • 31% of users have a high school education.
    • 25% of users have at least some college education.
    • 23% of users have a college education.
    • 13% of users have a post-graduate education.

Marital Status

  • About 55% of mobile payment users are married compared to 32% who are single.
  • Just 10% of mobile payment users are separated or divorced and 3% are widowed.


  • The vast majority of mobile payment users are employed at 70%.
  • Unemployed users make up 6% of mobile payment users and people who aren't in the workforce make up 24%.


  • People who identify as white make up 63% of mobile payment users.
  • People who identify as African-American make up 14% of mobile payment users.
  • People who identify as Hispanic make up 16% of mobile payment users.
  • The remaining users (7%) identify as another race or ethnicity.


  • People in the South region of the U.S. use mobile payments more than any other region at 36%.
  • Metropolitan residents (85%) use mobile payments much more heavily than non-metropolitan residents (15%).
  • The geographical breakdown of mobile payment users by U.S. region is as follows.
    • 18% of users live in the Northeast region.
    • 20% of users live in the Midwest region.
    • 36% of users live in the South region.
    • 26% of users live in the West region.


To provide a demographic analysis of Zelle's consumers, we began by searching for studies conducted on peer-to-peer payment apps, such as those conducted by Cornerstone Advisors, Due.com, eMarketer, PYMNTS.com, and others. We found age demographics specific to Zelle in the Cornerstone Advisors study and more general P2P demographics in a Due.com study. Unfortunately, there was no data available in these reports on other demographics. After expanding our search to media sources such as Forbes, CNBC, The Payments Review, and Business Insider, among others, we were still only able to determine that Zelle caters to a slightly older demographic than other P2P apps such as Venmo and Square Cash.

We then thought we might be able to determine at least gender demographics by analyzing the reviews for Zelle on Trust Pilot, Google Play, and the App Store, but many reviews were under names that did not have any gender-identifying information. These reviews were also perused to see if we could find any sort of other demographic information such as income, marital status, education, or geography, but there was no consistent data mentioned by the majority of reviewers that would allow us to triangulate an answer.

After striking out three times in an effort to find demographics other than age specific to Zelle, we expanded our search to P2P apps in general. Unfortunately, it does not appear that any recent study conducted by the aforementioned research companies or industry experts focused on demographics other than age or generational use. We widened our search again to mobile payments and was able to uncover a Pew study from 2016 that provided very specific demographic information on mobile payment users and non-users. Since Zelle is considered a mobile payment app, we assumed the demographics in this report would apply to Zelle as well as to other apps in this category. Unfortunately, it is a little older than Wonder's 24-month standard, but after diligently searching for a more recent study, we learned that current sources are still using this data, which means that it is likely the most recent available.

From Part 01
  • "Zelle®, the fast, safe and easy way to send money to friends and family within minutes, using only an email address or U.S. mobile number."
  • "By combining our deep experience in authentication and fraud prevention with the largest financial institution-delivered digital payment system in the United States, we get money flowing the way it should be."
  • ""
  • "Early Warning Services, LLC, is a fintech company owned by seven of the country’s largest banks. "
  • "For almost three decades, our identity, authentication and payment solutions have been empowering financial institutions to make confident decisions, enable payments and mitigate fraud."
  • "Today, Early Warning is best known as the owner and operator of the Zelle Network®"
  • "The money will go directly into their bank account, typically in minutes"
  • "All you need to send money with Zelle is the preferred email address or mobile number of the trusted recipient."
  • "Safely and easily send money to people you know through your trusted banking app - or the Zelle app if your bank doesn’t currently offer Zelle."
  • "While Zelle is both free to the user and instantaneous, it costs the participating bank between $0.50 to $0.75 per transaction."
  • "Charging users a transaction fee to offset that cost probably isn’t realistic since Venmo and Square Cash are free, although Venmo does charge $0.25 for instant transfers."
  • "What makes Zelle (pronounced “zell,” as in “gazelle,” the nimble creature that inspired the service’s name) stand out from rivals — most prominently, Venmo, the currency of choice for many millennials — are the big banks backing it."
  • "Banks began laying the technical infrastructure for Zelle in 2011 through a shared transfer network called clearXchange. But that service, which served banks’ needs more than their customers’, was fairly clunky, and its design and features varied at each bank. Zelle, built atop clearXchange’s infrastructure, is the industry’s first attempt at creating a unified consumer brand."
  • "To keep up, the banks have been forced to match their rivals’ price tag: free. Early Warning lets banks set their own user fees for Zelle, but none have announced plans to charge customers for bank-to-bank transfers."
  • "The rationale here is that by providing satisfactory P2P payment capabilities, customers of Zelle banks and credit unions will want to expand their relationship with those FIs."
  • "If banks can keep their users engaged, then they have more of an opportunity to cement relationships with customers while providing a broader array of services."
  • "As I've written about before, banks and credit unions are facing the threat of deposit displacement. Venmo users currently have more than $2 billion sitting in their Venmo accounts--money that used to sit in their checking accounts."
  • "With just a handful of players, the banks had enough clout and resources to build a competitive platform that other banks couldn’t ignore."
  • "However, it’s ability to surpass Venmo largely came from its ability to convert existing bank clients to Zelle clients."
  • "Zelle is not currently a revenue generator for the banks that own it. But it could be."
  • "76% of Gen X and 74% of Baby Boomers also said that offered through their financial institution was the key reason that they would trial P2P payments. "
  • "Absolutely. There's no need to download an additional app, it's right there in the trusted financial institution, online banking or mobile banking app that I currently use."
  • "I think we view checks and cash as our competition."
  • ""