Payments startup Dwolla is now using the very network it endeavors to replace.
Today Dwolla announced a new white-label API that will enable businesses to send payments through its network and the Automated Clearing House, an entity that handles the flow of money from one person or business’ bank account to another.
ACH is largely responsible for the movement of cash for direct deposit, vendor payments, and payroll services. Dwolla is building a network that moves money faster than ACH and is less difficult to hook into for businesses. But for now, only three banks directly connect to the Dwolla network for its real-time payment transfers. Until it onboards more banks, Dwolla has created a product that allows businesses to plug into ACH in addition to its own network to execute transfers at 99 percent of banks, according to the company.
Dwolla got its start in the peer-to-peer space, teaming up with banks to facilitate instant cash transfers between individuals. Since then it’s enabled businesses to move cash through its payment network for a fee, the price of which depends on the product package. It recently moved away from a per-transaction pricing model to a monthly fee. For example, a $25-a-month package will get a business unlimited next-day transfers through Dwolla. The new white-label product is aimed squarely at big businesses, fintech companies, and financial institutions — anyone who needs to move around a lot of cash at once.
For years, companies that needed to use customized payroll solutions or to make large distributed payments have had to build their own internal networks. That requires taking on a banking partner, becoming a third-party ACH service provider, and potentially employing an administrative staff to oversee this network.
“But their process isn’t really optimized, so they have a whole bunch of cost, and a lot of times actual physical people around these processes to type in that ‘this didn’t work’ or ‘this came back’ or something else, and we automate all of that for them,” said Ben Milne, CEO of Dwolla.
For $1,500 a month, Dwolla will allow businesses to hook directly into its payment network through four API endpoints. That package also comes with the ability to set fees and transaction limits. Already the company works with three banks — Veridian Credit Union, Comenity Capital Bank, and BBVA Compass — to facilitate real-time transactions. At their fastest, ACH transfers tend to take 1-2 days, but Milne said that, through the Dwolla network, money will never arrive later than the day after it was requested.
For now, Dwolla will continue to use ACH to make payments within banks it’s not already connected to. However, the ultimate goal is to onboard all banks to its network, making all transactions instant.
There’s been a lot of activity from startups trying to making it easier for companies to do business through back-office products and payment processing services. But for banks and other financial product providers to really become efficient, they’ll need a service that makes money transfers instantaneous.
The Andreessen Horowitz-backed company has taken a total of $32 million in funding since its founding in 2008.