Launched in December 2009, Dwolla is an independent payment network that acts as an alternative to traditional merchant accounts and major online payment processors like PayPal. Rather than utilizing standard banking networks (which charge interchange fees on each transaction), Dwolla allows users to send and receive money to and from their dedicated Dwolla accounts for a low, fixed amount per transaction. After a one-time signup, the service only requires a username and a PIN for payment, which significantly reduces users’ exposure to fraud.
Dwolla may be used for either business or personal payments, and its business features include mass payments, recurring billing, “Buy Now” buttons, customizable checkout pages, a point-of-sale app, and next-day transfers in certain cases. Individual users can also apply for limited lines of credit from the company on a case-by-case basis.
Dwolla Fee Breakdown
Transactions under $10 are free. For transactions over $10, Dwolla charges a fixed transaction fee of $0.25 to the recipient. Payments are always free for the sender, and there are no monthly or annual costs associated with Dwolla. Transferring money from a bank account to a Dwolla account is also free. In other words, Dwolla only costs $0.25 for each transaction over $10, meaning its effective rate will always be lower (in many cases, much lower) than 2.5%. This is cheaper than almost every competing payment processing option.
Dwolla Video Introduction
At a glance
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Processor: Veridian Credit Union
Phone number: (888) 289-8744
E-mail: Dwolla Support Contact Page
Featured User Reviews
I really like Dwolla and would love to use it more, the trick being getting others to use it. Luckily I was able to convince the illustrator of my children’s book to sign up, which makes sending her portion of royalties very easy. (It probably helped that she’s young and tech-friendly.)
I had no problem getting my account set up, nor have I heard from others who tried and weren’t able to, so that’s news to me. As for trust, I’d trust a no-name startup more than PayPal; I’ve been lucky with PayPal but I’ve read some real nightmare scenarios. In fact I opened a separate bank account specifically to act as a buffer between my regular bank account and PayPal, that’s how much I distrust PayPal. My overall desire to use PayPal is very low, thanks to that low trust and the high cost of fees, but I still end up using it for those who won’t sign on with Dwolla.
-Stuart Whitmore, In30Minutes.com
If you’re a business owner, Dwolla’s easy and incredibly affordable fee structure could help you save significantly on merchant transaction fees and give your bottom line a major boost, especially if you handle a lot of small transactions.
Alexia Chianis, Business Bee
What other reviewers are saying
CardPaymentOptions.com gives Dwolla an overall rating of “A+,” calling it a “low-cost, low-risk payment alternative for merchants.” The reviewer praises Dwolla’s simple, transparent pricing structure and describes it as an affordable payment option for both large-ticket and small-ticket merchants. The one drawback cited by the reviewer is the fact that both parties must obtain a Dwolla account in order to use the service. The CardPaymentOptions.com review has received 14 comments, most of which are assorted complaints that cite isolated problems like payment delays and excessive identification requests.
The Better Business Bureau
The BBB currently awards Dwolla an “A” rating and does not list accreditation for the company. Dwolla’s BBB profile has received 13 complaints in the past three years, most of which are filed under problem or service issues. Dwolla has successfully resolved 11 of these complaints, while two resolutions (from 2011 and 2013) left the complainant dissatisfied. Dwolla has not had any informal reviews posted to its BBB profile.
Dwolla has received 15 complaints on Ripoff Report, some of which have been cross-posted to other consumer protection sites. Most complaints mention fund holds, account deactivations, or fraudulent transactions being processed through Dwolla. In several of these cases, it does not seem that Dwolla is at fault, since the company cannot realistically ensure that its users always deliver goods and services as expected. Dwolla has responded to some of the complaints posted to Ripoff Report in a civil manner.
Dwolla has a 3.0 out of 5 star rating on Indeed based on one employee rating. The employee left the review in July 2013 and stated that while Dwolla offers “many opportunities to make a difference,” it also has “no real direction” due to how young it is. This employee was a customer service/payment specialist at Dwolla, so its possible that he or she may have some insight into the end user experience. Unfortunately, the content of the review does not reveal a great deal about Dwolla’s standard operations.
In February 2013, Dwolla received a generally positive review from Kevin Mulligan on Money Smart Life. The company’s Android app currently has a 3.8 out of 5 rating on the Google Play Store, while its iOS app has a 3.0 out of 5 on the iTunes App Store.
Dwolla’s network represents a unique opportunity for businesses and individuals to completely circumvent conventional electronic payment methods and their associated fees. On this basis alone, the service deserves a look. But when you consider the extremely low cost of transferring funds through Dwolla, it becomes especially appealing for business owners. With Dwolla, merchants can send and accept hundreds or even thousands of dollars at a time for a mere $0.25 and no other monthly or annual fees. And storefronts with average tickets less than $10 can benefit from free payment processing as long as they can entice customers to sign up for service.
For limited peer-to-peer money transfer, Dwolla isn’t necessarily the best option. Other payment apps allow users to send money through email or by phone without any fees whatsoever. Additionally, Dwolla has to overcome the fact that it requires a dedicated account for both the sender and the recipient, which may ultimately limit the company’s growth. However, as far as “other” services go—that is, payment solutions outside of traditional merchant accounts—Dwolla remains one of the most innovative and affordable services available to merchants of all sizes.
Have you ever processed payments through Dwolla? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below: