Car dealership groups offer Zelle, Venmo as payment methods

In the second quarter of 2022, about 14 dealer groups used Zelle to send payments to consumers, according to a spokeswoman for Early Warning Services, Zelle’s parent company. When counting the individual locations in each group, 97 dealerships use Zelle.

The nation’s largest new-vehicle retailer, AutoNation, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., touts paid-for-vehicle sellers through Zelle on its website. A spokesperson for AutoNation did not respond to a request for comment.

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Penske has been using Zelle at its U.S. sites since mid-2021, but most of the activity has been this year, company spokesman Anthony Pordon said. Zelle usage has especially increased over the past 30 to 60 days, he said.

Penske uses Zelle primarily at its CarShop used-vehicle supercenters, Pordon said.

Shelley Hulgrave, chief financial officer of Penske, said Automotive News in April 2022 that platforms such as Zelle and Venmo are impacting young consumers who don’t want to be paid with a paper check.

The company has not disclosed how many transactions it has made on the platform so far. Most Penske consumers interested in using Zelle are under 40, 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 his needs, Pordon said.

Goodwin thinks the lure of getting paid quickly is more responsible for consumer interest than any appeal these platforms might have for young people.

“A customer may even have a better offer from someone else, but because he can get paid so quickly, he is willing to accept an offer that may be a little lower than what he has gotten elsewhere” , Goodwin said.