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If you’ve ever used Zelle to send and receive cash, you may have wondered if your business can use the platform to have customers pay for their transactions.
The short answer: Now you may be able to.
The coronavirus pandemic made contactless payments a lot more popular for businesses, leading nearly a dozen banks to bring on Zelle for small businesses in 2020.
But before you put the “Zelle for business” sign up in your store front, keep in mind that not all businesses or customers are able to use the platform for business transactions.
And for businesses that are able to participate, you’ll want to know that your customers won’t have any built-in purchase protection — like the ability to cancel a payment once they hit send.
Let’s take a closer look at how Zelle for business works.
- Zelle for business: What you need to know
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of using Zelle for business?
- Next steps: If Zelle isn’t right for you, consider these alternatives
Zelle for business: What you need to know
Zelle is a digital payment network that’s co-owned by seven major U.S. banks. The Zelle platform is compatible with most U.S. banks and credit unions, and it has more than 90% of top financial institutions in its network, serving about 140 million consumers.
In 2020, Zelle for business became available for business customers that bank with one of 11 select banks in the Zelle network, allowing consumers to make payments through Zelle.
How can I use Zelle for business?
If you’re a small-business owner, you might be able to use Zelle to receive payments directly from your customers’ bank accounts. You may also remind customers when their payment is due by sending a request along with an optional note. And you may be able to use Zelle to send money to your suppliers or receive money from vendors.
Is Zelle for business right for me?
If your business banks with one of the 11 financial institutions offering Zelle for business, and you’re thinking about adding contactless payments, Zelle might be a good option. As of right now, participating banks include the following:
- Bank of America
- Bank of the West
- Investors Bank
- Morgan Stanley
- U.S. Bank
- Wells Fargo
What do I need to set up a Zelle business profile?
To start accepting Zelle payments or to make Zelle payments as a small business, you’ll first need make sure you have a business banking account with a participating bank. Next, you’ll have to enroll in the program through your bank’s mobile app.
To enroll, you’ll need to sign up using a mobile number and email address. Just keep in mind that if you send or receive with Zelle for personal use too, you’ll most likely need to provide a different phone number and email address for your business account.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using Zelle for business?
Using Zelle for your small business may offer several benefits (but there can also be drawbacks).
Ability to accept contactless payments
Since Zelle transactions are completely digital, you may be able to easily send and receive funds quickly without needing to exchange cash — providing a contactless and seamless way for your customers to pay. It may even help you cut down time and money spent on check and cash transactions.
Money can be transferred quickly
With Zelle, funds typically arrive in the recipient’s bank account within minutes, regardless of the day of the week or time of day that the transfer was initiated, which may help you get paid faster. By comparison, funds transferred through apps like Venmo or Cash App might arrive in your app account quickly, but could take up to three days to post to your bank account.
Must have a Zelle account through a bank
To use Zelle for business, both the sender and recipient need to be enrolled in Zelle through their bank’s mobile app. This means that you won’t be able to sign up for Zelle through your debit card or accept payments from customers who are enrolled in the Zelle app with their debit card either.
Transaction limits and fees may vary by bank
Zelle lets each participating bank decide on the number of transactions and transfer limits you’ll be able to send and receive as a small-business owner. Chase Bank, for example, allows you to send up to $5,000 per transaction and as much as $40,000 per month. Bank of America’s transfer limits, meanwhile, are $15,000 per 24 hours, $45,000 in a seven-day span and $60,000 every 30 days.
And while Zelle itself doesn’t charge any fees for small businesses to use its service, your bank may. So it’s a good idea to check with your bank before you begin to offer the service if you have concerns about fees.
Returns can be tricky
Zelle doesn’t offer any sort of purchase protection. Transactions happen quickly, and a Zelle payment can only be canceled while it’s still pending if the recipient hasn’t yet enrolled in Zelle. Assuming your small business is the recipient and already enrolled in Zelle, your customers won’t have the option to cancel a payment once it’s been sent.
So if a customer wants to return an item or cancel a transaction, you’ll have to find another way to refund their purchase.
Next steps: If Zelle isn’t right for you, consider these alternatives
If you’re not sure whether Zelle for business is the right fit for your small business, but you still want to offer a contactless payment option for your customers, you could consider adding ApplePay or Venmo.
Apple Pay has a broad customer base — the app comes preinstalled on all iPhone devices. But you won’t be able to use Apple Pay for in-person transactions without first getting a point-of-sale terminal that accepts contactless payments.
Venmo is another popular peer-to-peer payment platform that is now available for small businesses. And with a Venmo for business account, you’ll get several tools to help market your services and reach new customers, including a profile page with a link to your website and a picture and visibility on the Venmo social feed. But there are also costs associated with accepting customer payments in the Venmo app.