Dwolla: The Little Start-Up That Could
Among the many start-ups that have popped up in the digital and mobile payments space in the past few years, Des Moines, Iowa-based Dwolla has emerged as an innovative leader. Dwolla allows users of its service to link their bank accounts to Dwolla and then send small cash payments to other Dwolla members from a website, social media network or mobile device for a flat, 25-cent fee. Since it was launched in late 2010, Dwolla has rolled out a number of enhancements, such as "Dwolla Spots," a mobile app that lets iPhone users find a merchant that accepts Dwolla mobile payments (which run over the ACH rails) and submit payment using their mobile device.
But Dwolla has even bigger ambitions than being a payments disruptor or niche company. In June, the company launched FiSync, a real-time money transfer system designed to replace the longstanding ACH network. Dwolla claims that FiSync and its instantaneous electronic transfers represent an upgrade over ACH. So far only a few credit unions have adopted FiSync, but it certainly bears watching in the future. We're only hearing the beginning of Dwolla's story. --B.Y.