Dwolla, an online and mobile payment startup, released "Dwolla Spots" today. The new technology, currently a free app in Apple's App Store, lets iPhone users find a merchant that accepts Dwolla mobile payments (which run over the ACH) and submit payment using their mobile device.
I downloaded the app this morning (you have to sign up for the service from a computer), but found that Dwolla does not have any Manhattan merchants signed on yet. A Dwolla spokesperson said 500 merchants have signed up so far, and more come on board daily. It does provide a Google Map of my location, and if there were any "Spots" nearby, I could make a mobile payment from my linked bank account by communicating with the merchant's Dwolla-compatible iOS, Android, or Windows 7 device or web-connected computer. The customer's location information is used only to locate participating stores. Dwolla has a flat 25-cent transaction fee.
Dwolla can pull in users' social network contacts, so that they can send money to people in their Facebook or Twitter communities.