Digital Payment Service Zelle Looks to Close Loopholes

July 11, 2018

By Conor White

Digital payment service Zelle is expected to grow its user base by 73 percent in 2018, and overtake rival Venmo in the process, according to a new forecast from eMarketer. But the growth has little to do with user preferences or word of mouth ー rather, it's because Zelle is readily available inside the apps of more than 30 U.S. banks.

With such wide availability, though, comes the risk of fraud.

"Any financial product is confronted with these kinds of fraud issues," explained Ravi Loganathan, head of business intelligence at Early Warning Services, the company that created the Zelle app. "On the fraud side, we are well below any industry benchmarks out there."

But according to an April report by the New York Times, Zelle is especially vulnerable thanks to aspects of its design: all someone needs is a phone number or email address, and the user is not always notified when money is transferred into or out of an account.

In an interview Wednesday on Cheddar, Loganathan insisted Early Warning Services is fixing the loopholes being exploited by hackers.

"What we are doing is working actively with the financial institutions to strengthen and to do the education and training that is needed for consumers to better understand how to use the service and then how to also detect fraudsters."

The improvements come at a crucial time. According to a new study from Zelle, 75 percent of millennials have used a digital peer-to-peer payment service at least once, and 49 percent use one weekly.

For the full segment, click here.