In the second quarter of 2022, an estimated 14 dealership groups used Zelle to send payments to consumers, according to a spokeswoman for Early Warning Services, Zelle’s parent company. When counting each group’s individual locations, 97 dealerships use Zelle.
The country’s largest new-vehicle retailer, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based AutoNation, touts paying vehicle sellers via Zelle on its website. A spokesman for AutoNation did not respond to a request for comment.
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Penske has been using Zelle at its U.S. locations since mid-2021, but most of the activity has taken place this year, company spokesman Anthony Pordon said. Usage of Zelle especially ramped up in the last 30 to 60 days, he said.
Penske uses Zelle predominantly at its CarShop used-vehicle supercenters, Pordon said.
Penske CFO Shelley Hulgrave told Automotive News in April 2022 that platforms such as Zelle and Venmo are making an impact with younger consumers who don’t want to be paid with a paper check.
The company did not disclose the number of transactions it has made so far on the platform. Most Penske consumers interested in using Zelle are less than 40 years old, and most are familiar with the app because they’ve used similar online banking tools, Pordon said.
Penske had considered Venmo but ultimately found Zelle to be more user-friendly and in line with its needs, Pordon said.
Goodwin believes the appeal of getting paid expeditiously is more responsible for consumer interest than any appeal such platforms might have for younger people.
“A customer may even have a better offer from someone else, but because they can get paid so quickly, they’re willing to accept an offer that may be a little bit less than what they’ve gotten somewhere else,” Goodwin said.