Case Study: Zelle®

Zelle app screens


Zelle is a US-based digital payments network owned by Early Warning Services, a private financial services company owned by the US-based banks Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, US Bank, Citibank and Wells Fargo.

Through the Zelle network, enrolled users can send and receive money directly in and out of their registered bank account. Thanks to the collective cooperation of the owner banks (and over one hundred participant financial institutions), transfers between registered users is typically completed in mere minutes. Transfers to pre-enrolled recipients can take between 1 and 3 business days after recipient enrollment.

Unlike principle P2P competitors Venmo and PayPal, Zelle doesn’t hold funds in essentially third-party escrow. The money is in the user’s bank account and is usable immediately, not just within a P2P ecosystem. Money sent with PayPal is deposited in the recipient’s PayPal account, immediately usable only in another PayPal transaction. Transferring PayPal funds to a user’s bank account can take up to five business days, when avoiding a withdrawal fee. Seen through the lens of funds availability, Zelle has a clear advantage.

EWS has very clear guidelines and instructions around the Zelle brand and user experience. Participating financial institutions are required to adhere to these documented guidelines and instructions for integrating Zelle into their existing banking apps.

Capital One’s Zelle experience satisfied basic functional criteria for a time, but had fallen out of compliance. As the Zelle network grows, new use cases are identified by EWS and incorporated into their guidelines. Participating banks are expected to keep pace with these mandated updates.

Through a reiterative certification process, banks work with both design and tech teams at EWS to ensure participant compliance. As the lead designer on Zelle at Capital One, I was directly involved in the reiterative design process. I was able to apply my UX and UI expertise to successfully negotiate (and often reconcile) two mature design systems to bring the Zelle experience at Capital One into EWS compliance. And guide the way for a more fully integrated Zelle experience with multiple touchpoints in the Capital One app experience.

Product Team

  • Lead designer: Daryle Maciocha
  • Product Managers: Lizzie Epstein & Cameron Cook
  • Master Software Engineer (iOS): Scott Atkinson
  • Tech Lead (Android): Ken Brewer