I received an email today that First Bank Financial Centre (which is in the process of changing its name to Bank Five Nine), will begin offering a consumer payment app called Zelle.

Zelle is a competitor to Venmo or Paypal that is provided by financial institutions. It makes it easy to transfer money between bank accounts of friends and family.

However, Zelle lacks the consumer protection that other services offer. They state directly, “Neither First Bank Financial Centre nor Zelle offers a protection program for any authorized payments made with Zelle…” This is particularly dangerous when linked directly to a checking or savings account.

What happens if you sent money to the wrong Bob in your contact list? Quoting the FAQ, “we recommend contacting the recipient and requesting the money back.” That’s not very hopeful. If that fails, a phone number is offered for customer assistance. Neither of these are satisfactory way of initiating a dispute.