By Ian Macallister, Head of Customer Success
Last month we heard top things to consider for fraud management with Zelle®. This month Jim Boone, Principal Consultant at Levvel, and I dove deep into another important topic - architecture. We discussed some top questions that we have heard from clients.
Levvel is a technology consulting firm that works with financial institutions to design, develop and launch new payment products and services. They offer a full range of IT consulting services including strategic evaluations, requirements definition, architectural design, vendor evaluations, and custom application development and integration services.
In case you missed it, here is a link to the last Q&A with Levvel.
Ian: First, many thanks to the Levvel team on sharing your insights with our readers the past few months. Ok, let’s get to it. We all know that Zelle customers can receive and send money in minutes when both parties are already enrolled. Does that mean financial institutions need to change their settlement process to offer Zelle?
Jim: Ian, we appreciate the time to share all the nuances of implementing Zelle. The short answer is no. As you know, money sent via the Zelle Network® is typically made available in minutes to a customer that is already enrolled. However, the actual settlement of the funds between the participating banks still occurs via the standard ACH settlement files. Once the receiving financial institution (FI) has validated an incoming Zelle payment against all applicable velocity, fraud, and account disposition checks, funds will be transferred to the recipient’s banking account. The funds provided to the recipient are withdrawn from a designated Zelle settlement. The sending FI is responsible for including all successful outbound Zelle payments in their outgoing ACH file, including the unique Zelle Payment Id within the addenda record. The receiving FI will process the ACH file and settle the funds via an existing settlement process.
Ian: Thanks. Ok, so if an FI is ready to move forward with Zelle, what internal systems do they need to include to implement Zelle?
Jim: An FI must allow integration with the core accounting system to ensure that the customer’s accounts are in good standing and adhere to all applicable rules and regulations prior to being able to send or receive funds via the Zelle Network. Integration into a FI’s Anti-Money Laundering or Know Your Customer systems is required to ensure that any payment, inbound and outbound, pass all applicable fraud checks. New rules may be required to ensure that the participating parties of a transaction are properly identified and verified for possible fraud.
Once a payment has been verified, integration with the core accounting system also ensures that funds are withdrawn or deposited, in accordance with the Zelle Network Participation Rules. The FI’s notification system is required to send alerts to customers and allow customers to opt in/out of receiving optional alerts triggered by Zelle transactions. Finally, as mentioned above, integration with the existing ACH system ensures that funds are properly settled.
Ian: What points of integration do FI’s need to consider when connecting to the Zelle Network?
Jim: The Zelle Network has two main points of integration. The first integration point is done via an Application Programming Interface (API) service. The Zelle API allows an FI to initiate a transaction as well as retrieve information regarding tokens, payments etc. The second integration point is the receipt and processing of alert notifications sent to the FI. Transactions initiated by other participating institutions result in a notification(s) being sent from Zelle to the impacted FI(s) so that they may take appropriate action for the internal customers.
Ian: We hear a lot from smaller banks and credit unions who do not have the development resources or capabilities to launch Zelle. We want them all to be part of the network. How can you help them?
Jim: FIs of any size or transaction volume can offer Zelle. An FI should first begin by looking at their current vendors such as Fiserv, FIS, Jack Henry or CO-OP to see what, if any, Zelle integration options they support. This can help minimize the amount of new development required to integrate Zelle with existing systems. If your current vendors either do not provide a solution, or the solution does not fully meet an FI’s needs, there are additional vendors that can help. These vendors can provide the standard connection to the Zelle Network, as well as assistance with integrating with existing vendor systems.
Ian: How should a FI structure the architecture that allows for easy integration of new use cases or updates?
Jim: Naturally a decoupled enterprise architecture is essential for integrating any new payments capability. Since the FI can leverage this type of architectural make-up to reuse technology investment between their internal systems, they will be well positioned to respond effectively to new use cases and or network updates. As with any payment system, future updates will be required by Zelle to keep up with industry standards and product evolution.
About the Author:
Ian Macallister is vice president and Head of Sales and Customer Success for Early Warning, with responsibility over Early Warning’s sales organization. He brings substantial industry and leadership expertise to the role with a focus on how to always keep the customer at the center of product and service solutions.
About the Interviewee:
Jim Boone’s: Jim Boone is a Principal Consultant at Levvel and has over 25 years of experience in systems engineering, systems management, software design/development, and payment software systems across the power generation, health care, and banking industries. He has helped both large and small clients integrate payment systems into their enterprise architecture, and he has designed and implemented custom payment software solutions.
Levvel: Levvel helps clients transform their business with strategic consulting and technical execution services. We work with your IT organization, product groups, and innovation teams to design and deliver on your technical priorities. The Levvel Payments practice combines real-world experience and insider knowledge to help you navigate the complex arena of payments. For more information, contact Levvel at firstname.lastname@example.org.