Capital One to begin offering peer-to-peer money transfers via email, mobile phone


A Capital One banking center. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Capital One is the latest large bank to join a network of financial institutions offering so-called peer-to-peer payment services.

The McLean-based bank, which oversees 65 million accounts, will soon allow customers to exchange money with one another using ClearXchange, a bank-owned platform headquartered in San Francisco.

The idea, bank executives say, is to make it easier for customers — many of whom have long ditched their checkbooks in favor of online and mobile banking — to transfer money to one another using mobile phones and e-mail accounts.

“Customers were saying, ‘I want an easy way to pay my friend back for dinner without going to a third-party site,’” said Mike Kennedy, chief executive of ClearXchange. “Our service allows people to send money to anyone with an e-mail address or a cell phone number.”

ClearXchange was founded in 2011 as a joint venture between Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. The three banks, along with Capital One, now own equal shares of the company.

Neither Capital One nor ClearXchange would disclose how much the bank paid.

Third-party sites such as Paypal have long allowed peer-to-peer payments. A number of similar Web sites and mobile apps have cropped up in recent years, but ClearXchange executives say their platform, the first to be created by — and for — financial institutions makes the process even simpler.

A Capital One customer, for example, can transfer money to a friend by logging into the bank’s Web site and entering their friend’s phone number or e-mail address. Capital One then pings the friend’s bank and facilitates the transaction. There is no fee for the service.

(Customers of nonparticipating banks cannot currently send money but can receive transfers as long as they have registered on the ClearXchange Web site.)

“Most customers have a need to [make person-to-person transfers] and we, as an industry, should make it as easy as possible,” said Jack Forestell, executive vice president of digital at Capital One.

The number of people using their mobile devices to access bank accounts has grown more than 50 percent in the past year, with nearly one in three Americans saying they engage in mobile banking at least once a month, according to a recent survey by Accenture.

In the last few years, there has been a migration away from cash and checks,” said Matthew Friend, managing director for Accenture Payment Services. “People are looking for the simplest, most direct way to exchange money.”

Kennedy would not disclose how many users are on the ClearXchange network, but said participating banks have more than 90 million online banking customers.

Capital One, which has traditionally relied on credit card fees and interest payments for the bulk of its revenue, has made efforts to broaden its business in recent years. The bank, which has $297 billion in assets and $204.5 billion in deposits, is the nation’s seventh-largest by deposits.

Abha Bhattarai covers local banking, retail and hospitality for The Washington Post’s Capital Business section. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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