TechFaster: Today we’re sitting down with Dwolla’s Chief Operations Officer, Charise Flynn.
Charise:: Hey guys, how are you today?
TechFaster: Great. Thank you very much for joining us. Can you start us off with a little intro and tell us what Dwolla does?
Charise: I’d be happy to. Dwolla is a payment network. It’s a brand new network. If you think back to Visa and Mastercard, they’re technologies that were created a long time ago. We were created to cut out the credit card fees and to build a brand new cash face network. In a sense you can thing about Paypal and how it allows you to electronically send or receive money. The big difference that Dwolla has is that we started from scratch, building it group-up with our own new set of rails and our fee structure is really straightforward. We have a 25 cent percent fee for $10 up to $10,000 that you can move for 25 cents. Transactions under $10 are completely free.
TechFaster: Great. Just out of curiosity, how does the free structure work after $10,000?
Charise: Right now you’re only allowed, on a business account, to send up to $10,000. That’s your max. We recently released a product that was basically premium account structures. Those are very limited and the people that quality can move up to one million dollars for 23 cents.
TechFaster: In general, how many transactions do you guys handle a day?
Charise: A lot. Those are numbers we don’t always release our current transaction volume, but we’re moving a lot of money through the system.
TechFaster: Let me rephrase that: how many users do you have that are actively using Dwolla?
Charise: About six months ago our last reported number was close to 200,000. And that has, month over month, been compounding really nicely.
TechFaster: Tell us a little bit about the team. How many people are with Dwolla now?
Charise: We have 30+ full-time tem members and our team is mostly headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, which is an interesting place to start and grow a tech company. We also have a small team in New York as well as Kansas City and Omaha.
TechFaster: So you guys are now handling Iowa’s Cigarette Stamp Tax Act and some lunch account payments? What’s next in the government public sphere for Dwolla?
Charise: Our announcements the last couple of weeks were with the state of Iowa and so we launched a pilot project with them and we’ll continue to launch more programs with them. We picked a very specific use case to get the relationship started, but we’re continuing to work with different levels of government. Not only at the state level, but at county level and at the city level. There’s a lot of money right now that’s currently being paid either via check or via credit card and all those fees are usually passed on to the citizens. We’re able to offer a cheaper faster option.
TechFaster: Can you tell us a little bit about how Dwolla integrates or how it works in the ecommerce world?
Charise: About five months ago we launched what we called a guest checkout that allows anyone – you don’t have to have a fully registered Dwolla account – to make a payment on an ecommerce website. That’s going really well. Especially when there are situations when the customers are repeat customers because they start to understand that they can get a discount passed on to them or quicker shipping or some benefits that those retailers are offering their customers for paying with an alternative payment method.
TechFaster: How many ecommerce sites do you guys handle payments for?
Charise: That’s not an exact number that I can give you. We have around 10,000 businesses utilizing that platform and that’s across multiple different channels. Some of that are online payments. A large part of our majority is also companies that are paying out customers or service providers. So they might be mass paying out 10,000 service providers at one time. More of our business is on the payout side currently than it is general ecommerce. Although our API and technology can be utilized in that way, we found that payouts are a bigger problem to solve right now.
TechFaster: S is your business based primarily in the U.S. now or have you moved oversees at this point? Are there plans to do that?
Charise: Currently we’re only in the U.S. There’s a big market in the U.S. and we’re heavily focused on getting a larger foothold here prior to going international.
TechFaster: Do you think you will continue to be an Iowa-based company?
Charise: That’s a question we get asked quite a bit and right now we see no reason to move. Des Moines has been a great pace for us to grow the company. There are a lot of financially-minded individuals in Des Moines so we’ve been able to hire really great talent who understand the complicated space that we operate in. Also, the standard of living here is quite a bit less. I was joking around the other day, saying that our rent in New York for just a few employees cost as much as our base headquarters here that has 23+ team members.
TechFaster: Sounds about right. Obviously Silicon Valley, San Francisco would be similar or even higher. Well that’s really helpful, Charise. I think that this is absolutely disruptive technology. I’m sure that the credit card companies have an interesting view of what you guys are doing. I think it’s a great thing.
Charise: It’s interesting that you bring up the credit card companies. We actually partner with financial institutions and in that partnership we started to think that our service could actually benefit the credit card companies on the back-end settlement. We have a product that allows real-time gross settlement and credit card companies are usually still using ACH on the back end to settle with their merchants. In a world of utopia we could all work happily together.
TechFaster: That makes sense. We really appreciate your time and your insights. Is there anything that you would like to leave us with? Any parting thoughts? Any future near-term developments for Dwolla?
Charise: I would just say keep an eye on Dwolla.com and our blog. We usually release our announcements first on the blog and they’re coming down the pipeline every single week.
TechFaster: Sounds good. Thank you very much. It’s Charise Flynn with Dwolla and stayed tuned with TechFaster. Thank you, Charise.