Banks plan payment wallet to compete with PayPal, Apple Pay

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Big banks are teaming up to launch a digital wallet that people can use to shop online.

Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and four other banks are working on a new product that will allow shoppers to pay at merchants’ online checkout with a wallet that will be linked to their debit and credit cards.

The digital wallet will be managed by Early Warning Services LLC, the bank-owned company that operates money-transfer service Zelle. The wallet, which doesn’t have a name yet, will operate separately from Zelle, EWS said.

A man uses an automated teller machine (ATM) at a Wells Fargo Bank branch on a rainy morning in Washington January 17, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo (Reuters Photos)

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TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
WFCWELLS FARGO & CO.43.92+0.97+2.26%
BACBANK OF AMERICA CORP.33.85+0.62+1.87%
JPMJPMORGAN CHASE & CO.137.26+2.19+1.62%

EWS, whose owners also include Capital One Financial Corp., PNC Financial Services Group Inc., U.S. Bancorp and Truist Financial Corp., plans to begin rolling out the new offering in the second half of the year. 

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
COFCAPITAL ONE FINANCIAL CORP.104.18+6.27+6.40%
PNCTHE PNC FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP INC.159.34+4.50+2.91%
USBU.S. BANCORP46.46+0.83+1.82%
TFCTRUIST FINANCIAL CORP.48.84+0.93+1.93%

One goal of the new service is to compete with third-party wallet operators such as PayPal Holdings Inc. and Apple Inc.’s  Apple Pay, according to people familiar with the matter. Banks are worried about losing control of their customer relationships. Apple, in particular, poses a big threat. The tech giant has moved further into financial services and is working on a savings account with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and a buy now, pay later offering. 

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
PYPLPAYPAL HOLDINGS INC.79.50+0.41+0.52%
AAPLAPPLE INC.141.11+3.24+2.35%
GSTHE GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC.349.19+7.26+2.12%

EWS’s owner banks are also trying to cut down on fraud. Customers using their wallet wouldn’t have to type in their card numbers, which can raise the risk of fraud and rejected payments that result in lost sales. 

Apple card making a payment on Apple Pay. The wallet from EWS hopes to claw back market share from Apple Pay and Venmo, which is owned by PayPal. (image courtesy of Apple) (Apple)

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The banks expect to enable 150 million debit and credit cards for use within the wallet when it rolls out. U.S. consumers who are up-to-date on payments, have used their card online in recent years and have provided an email address and phone number will be eligible. 

The banks are still ironing out the details of the customer experience. It likely will involve consumers’ typing their email on a merchant’s checkout page. The merchant would ping EWS, which would use its back-end connections to banks to identify which of the consumer’s cards can be loaded onto the wallet. Consumers would then choose which card to use or could opt out. 

EWS’s owners last year debated a plan to allow shoppers to use Zelle for online purchases, The Wall Street Journal previously reported. Concerns around fraud and the treatment of disputed transactions, which have caught the eye of lawmakers, contributed to the decision to not move forward.

In this April 21, 2022, photo illustration, a woman holds a smartphone with the Zelle logo displayed on the screen. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The wallet is being designed to roll out with cards since that is how U.S. consumers are used to shopping. The banks figured it would increase the odds that more people would use the wallet.

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Should a sizable number of merchants enable the wallet and consumers adopt it, EWS banks could explore adding other payment options, EWS said. That could include enabling payments directly from bank accounts. 

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
VVISA INC.224.16-0.15-0.07%
MAMASTERCARD INC.378.69+2.57+0.68%
DFSDISCOVER FINANCIAL SERVICES110.27+4.17+3.93%

The wallet will be launched with Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. debit and credit cards, EWS said. EWS reached out about the initiative to other card networks, including Discover Financial Services, to gauge their interest in enabling their cards to be loaded onto the wallet. 

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