The three of the nation's four largest banks announced Wednesday their joint participation in a program that will allow customers to move funds from their existing checking accounts using an e-mail address or phone number, instead of checking account and routing numbers. clearXchange, which will be owned and operated by the banks, will allow users to make electronic payments to other people's checking accounts through computers or smartphones. According to the banks, the program will also reduce reliance on checks to process payments.
"This is an innovative game-changer in electronic payments," Mike Kennedy, executive vice president and head of Payments Strategy at Wells Fargo, said in a statement. "We want our customers to be able to easily send money to anyone without having to establish a new account outside their primary bank. All our customers need to know is the e-mail address or mobile number of a friend or family member and we will take care of the rest utilizing clearXchange.
The banks said the service will also allow customers to check their account balances before sending any money, because it will be linked to their online bank accounts.
"clearXchange will allow us to make our popular person-to-person payments service even better," Jack Stephenson, director of Mobile, eCommerce and Payments at JPMorgan Chase, said in a statement. "Chase customers will be able to send and receive money even more quickly and easily -- with full confidence their funds are in a bank account without worrying about cash, checks or higher-cost services."
The program will be rolled out nationally, and according to Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo there are plans to expand it nationwide at some point to create "money movement across the industry."
The banks did not disclose how much it will cost consumers to use the service. According to USA Today, in the initial program, customers won't be able to transfer funds to another person unless that person also has an account with one of the three banks, however plan is to have the transferring-funds service available to all banks by next year.