Dwolla (dwolla.com) is a Des Moines, Iowa-based startup that is on a mission to radically change the electronic payments industry. The company was founded in 2008 on the premise of bypassing credit card Interchange fees (aka: swipe fees) and providing a low-cost payment service to businesses and consumers. Dwolla has created a proprietary payment network similar to that of VISA and MasterCard, and Dwolla’s network does not charge a percentage fee for the transaction like a traditional merchant account does (costs will be covered below). Instead, the company eliminates credit card use altogether by linking consumers’ Dwolla accounts with their checking accounts. The service may sound similar to PayPal, and in some ways it is, but Dwolla is approaching the concept from a very different angle.
Although Dwolla’s payment concept is not exactly a new one, its marketing and business strategy is completely unique. With help from a few banking and financial institution investors, Dwolla has created a payment network that eliminates all of the common fees that merchants incur from accepting card payments. Additionally, the company’s network eliminates the common transfer delays and fraud that plagues similar networks such as the ACH network that most banks utilize. Essentially, Dwolla is a global system for instant cash transfers.
Dwolla can be used for payments between individuals, businesses, or both, but the focus of this review will be the consumer-to-merchant acceptance side. Merchants can accept payments the same way individuals can pay each other, or they can use features that are better suited for their needs. These include website integration and plug-ins for shopping carts as well as tools that can be used to accept payments at the merchant’s location. The company has made major headway in the payments market and has reported that it is processing $30 to $50 million in transactions every month.
Dwolla Video Introduction
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||No|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||Yes|
Dwolla primarily markets itself via its website and uses no deceptive advertising or marketing tactics that are apparent to this reviewer. There are also no complaints regarding the company’s sales tactics to be found on this or other consumer protection websites, indicating that there are no issues with hidden fees or rate increases.
Dwolla Marketing Example
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|All transactions:||$0 or $0.25|
|PCI compliance fee:||None|
Dwolla probably has the most attractive pricing of any electronic payment service on the market. The company charges no fees for transactions under $10 and only 25 cents per transaction for any amount over $10. There are no additional fees whatsoever (including no PCI Compliance fees) and no service agreement or cancellation fees. Dwolla’s pricing makes it especially cost effective for merchants who deal in low dollar sales as well as merchants that typically have high dollar sales.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support?||No|
|Most common complaint:||Transfer time|
Dwolla has only about 20 complaints filed in the usual online forums, including Ripoff Report and the comments section of this review; however, the content of these complaints appears to describe isolated incidents and simple merchant misunderstandings surrounding the $3.00 monthly fee for Dwolla Instant (an opt-in service that offers up to $500 in instantly transferrable cash). This $3.00 fee is clearly disclosed on the Dwolla website and will not be considered deceptive for the purposes of this review. The company provides email support and help articles published on its website.
|Key Points – BBB Report|
As of this review, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is showing Dwolla as not “BBB Accredited” and is awarding the company an “A“ rating based on 13 complaints filed in the last 36 months. Of the complaints, nine are due to problems with service, two are related to billing and collection, and two have to do with advertising or sales issues. All but two of the complaints were resolved to the customers’ satisfaction. In light of these figures, we have slightly adjusted the BBB’s grade to an “A-.”
Dwolla is making waves in the credit card processing industry. The company offers a low-cost, low-risk payment alternative for merchants. The only drawback to the service is that both the merchant and customer need to have Dwolla accounts. Therefore, the service is best used as a supplement to a traditional credit card processing service. The service is especially useful for business-to-business payments and rent payments.
This review was originally published on 2/8/12 and was last updated on 12/5/14.
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