Dwolla’s Evolution from Direct-to-Consumer


Founded in 2008, Dwolla is one of the fintech originals. Because of its long-standing history in the fintech space, the Iowa-based company has been through a lot of changes as it evolves with banks, fintechs, and consumer demand.

Since its start, Dwolla has focused on offering an alternative to the traditionally slow ACH money transfer system. Initially, the company tackled this objective through a direct-to-consumer (DTC) product, which allowed individual users to sign up for Dwolla to make peer-to-peer money transfers and transact with the company’s merchant partners.

As part of its DTC solution, Dwolla even offered a cardless credit product called Instant. The tool would lend users up to $5,000 for one month, with no interest, in exchange for a $3 per month subscription fee.

As an evolution of its credit offering, the company partnered with Alliance Data to launch Dwolla Credit. The ecommerce point of sale product worked much like PayPal in that users would select a Pay with DWOLLA button at the point of sale to complete their purchase. Funds would transfer on Dwolla’s rails to enable merchants to receive the funds instantly in their Dwolla account.

Despite the company’s numerous innovations in the consumer space, Dwolla received the most traction from its bank-focused product, FiSync, a payments protocol for real-time money transfers. The success of this tool prompted the company to exit the consumer space in 2016 to focus on creating payment APIs.

Today, Dwolla’s API helps organizations integrate payments into their application to send, collect, and facilitate payments. Earlier this year the company doubled down on its roots in faster payments to deliver real time payments in collaboration with Cross River Bank. The new, instant payment option leverages the RTP Network to send money directly to a bank account in seconds.

In a post-COVID world in which consumers have been trained to conduct more of their daily transactions online, Dwolla’s real-time payments capability will play a key role. “The immediacy of real-time payments will fundamentally change how businesses operate,” said Dwolla CEO Brady Harris. “As electronic payments continue to grow in adoption, RTP is the perfect complement to our ACH and Push-to-Debit offerings.”

Dwolla, a three-time Finovate alum, most recently demoed at FinovateSpring 2015 where it debuted FiSync. The company has raised $51.4 million from investors including Union Square Ventures, High Alpha, and Foundry Group.

Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash