UPDATE: As of March 28, 2014, we are closing the Instant beta program in order to make way for bigger and better things. Keep up to date on all of the latest by following the Dwolla blog. 

Dwolla gives everyone the ability to exchange money without paying interchange (credit card fees). This is the core reason our network was created and we’ve grown considerably by concentrating on solving that single issue.

High fees, while exchanging money, is a pain point that millions of people share.

However, as we began solving that pain point, we began to realize just how fundamentally broken the whole system is, and that the fees levied were in place to subsidize the costs of an expensive legacy architecture that is over 50-years old. Consumers are losing their identities as merchants are eating the costs of compliance, and we are all paying the price:

  • Why should you exchange your financial well-being for a latte every time you swipe your card?
  • Why do billion dollar industries, which feed off of securing the financial information inside credit card transactions, need to exist if the data doesn’t need to be there?
  • Why should transactions under $10 be considered “cost-prohibitive” for merchants?
  • Why do you need a Harvard MBA to understand the fees?
  • Why are there so many costs?
  • Why can’t members be in control of their information?

So we built Dwolla, a new network that allows people to exchange money without bringing in the fees of other payment options. We deconstructed the rails, changed the game, and built our own.

How? We removed the threat of credit card fraud, built unique privacy controls, created new security standards, eliminated financial information from transactions, integrated new social technologies, and provided the nation with its lowest-cost sustainable payment network. More importantly, we created a company dedicated to finding and solving pain points.

Creating a transaction that bypassed the current networks and avoided their fees was step one.

Today, it’s time to solve another pain point, but this time it’s one of our own.

The solution is Instant.

What is Instant?

Instant is a new opt-in feature that provides you access to cash immediately. When you turn the feature on, you can deposit and send cash without the wait or delay users typically bump into with Dwolla. Whether you’re in a combine, on the streets of New York, walking down the Embarcadero in San Francisco, or stopping in at Mars Café in Des Moines, if you have access to the Internet, you have cash.

No more waiting, no more hunting down your ATMs, no more confusing price structures, no more hidden fees, no more interest rates, no more tricks to lure you into debt, and no more headaches. Once you subscribe, you’ll have all of the benefits of Dwolla without the wait.

Transactions are still 25 cents, except for those under $10, which are free. The feature has one participation and one penalty fee, both simple, transparent and low-cost requests.

How to use Instant

  • Login to your Dwolla account online.
  • Click Add/Remove Features.
  • Turn on the instant feature.
  • Once enabled, go to “Deposit Money”. You can now select Instant as a funding source. Money is now instantly available.

Two simple and transparent fees, guide our network. Once enrolled, a reoccurring participation fee of $3 will be requested on the monthly anniversary of the day you turned on Instant. For example, the statement date for users that enroll today will end January 15.

Once you deposit or send funds with Instant, you’ll be asked to select a funding source for the transaction. These transactions will be tied to a separate “Instant Balance.” Immediately after we give you access to the funds you requested, Dwolla will provide you the options to either initiate a payment from a linked bank account (this is preferred) or pay us back later, if need be. We ask that you pay down your remaining Instant balance to $0 by the end of your statement date, so you can avoid the $5 late fee.

We’ve taken conscious steps to create processes and notifications to prevent this late fee from happening. In other words, we’re trying to prevent you from being “that guy/girl.” We honestly don’t want to ding you $5, it’s not part of Dwolla’s culture. We just want the quarter.

Once completed, you’ll have received advanced access to the funds you need for whatever you want! Slick, huh?


It was extremely important that when we built this extension of the network that we carefully understood and engineered a cost structure that would do three things:

1.) It would be dead simple to understand
2.) It would be a fair price
3.) It would scale intelligently so we wouldn’t have to force new charges later to pay for the feature’s growth

How does this help merchants?
Receiving Dwolla payments are still the same as before: same 25 cent fee for transactions over $10, same processes, same everything. As a matter of fact, if it changes anything, it adds another incentive for you to accept Dwolla inside your online shopping carts or your retail store.

In the end…
This is a new style of transaction, a new shift in what we believe to be a fair, transparent, and innovative type of payment product. As always, there will be room for improvement, so we eagerly await your feedback.

  • Pixxystixx1974

    Wow this just can’t be for real and this simple!

  • Art

    how do I opt out of instant? Could not find the button

    • http://twitter.com/bpmilne Ben Milne

      Art  –  Very simple. Log In >> Funding Sources >> Instant – click Disable.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y42XT7CVIZLSCAVWFVKN4RULDQ Steve

    As I understand this you fund a pot of money for Instant by transferring money from your bank account and it would seem that this practice would prevent loss of funds.  But what happens if you cell phone is lost/stolen and Instant is turned on.  If someone uses it without authorization what safety is built into the system to keep the owner from losing the money?

    • CaityJones

      If someone wanted to transfer funds via Instant, they would still need to login to the app (your email and password) and then PIN sign the transaction with your PIN number.

  • Liana Truesdale

    How do you get the cash?  I’m not or when they say you have cash for the shirt do they mean debit..

    • CaityJones

      Hey Liana, can you help me understand your question a little better?

  • Mike

    i am so confused.  how did i get the $20 into the hands of the vendor?

    • CaityJones

      I’m sorry Mike, can you help me understand your question a little better? Are you referring to a scenario of paying a vendor $20 via Dwolla Instant?

      • http://www.facebook.com/pancho.opazo.18 Pancho Opazo

        I think thats´s what mike ment… how did the vendor get paid? cause I could only buy that shirt if the vendor accepts dwolla…Thats the perfect world I think, but it doesnt exists…

        • CaityJones

          You can only use Dwolla with merchants that have Dwolla accounts. With that in mind, here’s how the experience would work.

          If a Dwolla merchant has a T-shirt store, and you like a shirt, you can pay with Dwolla. At a retail location, you would walk up to the checkout, pull out your phone with the Dwolla app, and send money from your Dwolla account to that merchant’s Dwolla account. Here is a video that gives you a look at the customer’s experience: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1RK6CctcXU. The vendor usually has a computer/phone with an internet connection, or the Dwolla merchant app, so they can view the Dwolla transaction come in, in real time.

          If you do not have enough money in your Dwolla account to pay for the shirt, but you’ve been approved for Dwolla Instant, you can borrow money from Dwolla by clicking ‘Deposit Money’ in the app, and choosing how much you’d like to borrow. You can then send the merchant your Dwolla payment just as you normally would have.

          Merchants will then withdraw that money that has been sent to their Dwolla account to their bank account, either manually, or by setting up auto-withdraw.

  • http://www.facebook.com/renukumar9 Renu Kumar

    dwolla is available for India ???
    We are waiting for such concept for long time, if not plz make things faster before loosing so much.

    • CaityJones

      We are only in the US at this time, however we would love to expand internationally in the future.

      • Andy

        Please do it sooner, we are waiting

        • Dylan

          Im in the U.S. and this would help me tremendously with sending my contractors in India payments. +1 for Dwolla in India!

      • Sean

        its been 3 years, when do you see this happening?

        • CaityJones

          Hi Sean, there is no set date for international on the timeline. We’ll be sure to let everyone know when we make an international move.

          • Sean

            wow you replied on like a 3 year old thread. Very nice! its just too bad your company kind of frustrates me. Ive had to post bad reviews online because of the lack of information you give clients and the long amount of time it takes to get transactions completed. I had someone pay me 100 saturday and i should have gotten paid today. Instead i got an email stating there was a problem and to try again, and wait 5 more days? Or wait, i can pay you $250 a month to get it faster, or as i say, how it should be anyways. Then you cant tell me if it was rejected to bad account number or NSF. I have to have the client call his bank and look over everything and take even more time up. I liked the idea, but its too slow and to expedite it is too expensive. You have the highest gateway fee ($250) in the industry!

  • David

    I still don’t understand how I will get the cash (nice, blue dollar bills) to my hands?

    • David

      blue = green

    • CaityJones

      You use Instant within the Dwolla application. Electronic transfer of cash, essentially. Without all the crazy fees.

      • Charlie

        I’m confused too. How do the *physical* bills get into your hands?

        • CaityJones

          There are no physical bills. Just as when you pay via credit card, or PayPal, their is no physical cash being exchanged, only your account being debited and the merchant’s account being credited.

          Once you initiate a payment with Dwolla, the money you are sending will go from your Dwolla account or bank account (depending on which you choose) to their Dwolla account. They can then withdraw the funds from their Dwolla account to their bank account.

          Dwolla Instant allows people without money in their Dwolla account to borrow money from Dwolla in order to make their purchase. The user will be expected to pay back what they borrowed from Dwolla by the end of the month. You can pay this back with a transaction from your bank account.

          • http://twitter.com/mrdavidjcole Dave Cole

            Caity, I (and it seems a lot of people here) equate the word “cash” with physical money, and nothing else. The post shouldn’t use the term cash if it means transferring funds electronically. The way it is written is absurdly confusing.

    • mikemikemikemikemike

      Who da fuck has blue dollar bills?

  • Dylan

    Does Instant
    apply to person-to-person transfers as well, or only merchant-based purchases?
    For example, lets say I want to send $10 to a friend but don’t have money in my
    Dwolla account. I could send them $10 now, which they would receive instantly, and
    then transfer money from my bank account into the Dwolla account to cover it
    after the fact?

    • CaityJones

      It applies to person-to-person as well. You nailed it :)

  • Gor

    Another ewallet. Don’t see key different versus PayPal for an example based on description.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1384090593 Ross Inman

      Umm.. try the fee is only $0.25 for any transfer over $10. Under $10 it is free. That is WAY better than paypal and any other online payment system that charges a fee + 3.5+% per purchase.

    • CaityJones

      Gor – The biggest difference is the cost, which Ross describes.

  • Scott Bieser

    When will Instant for Dwolla-bank cash transfers be available?

    • CaityJones

      Hi Scott – Dwolla Instant is a credit function, that works to cover the delay between the time it takes money to travel from your bank account to your Dwolla account or when you do not have money in your Dwolla account, and that you can pay back later. Currently, we have filled all positions available for this product.

      We have a product called FiSync (http://blog.dwolla.com/ach-goes-real-time-with-fisync-free-for-banks-and-credit-unions/) that, when integrated with your financial institution, allows for real-time bank transactions. FiSync is live, and works with any financial institution that opts to integrate. Right now, Veridian CU is live, and we are working on wrapping up other partnerships now.

  • Nigel

    so when you walk into a clothing store to buy a shirt and they say cash or credit you say heres my phone??? unless the vedors accept this dwollar you cannot use it anywhere from what i can see in the description, even paypal doesnt have that coverage yet, how many years will it take you, or am i missing something???

    • Bob

      I want to know the same thing… I dont think starbucks is going to take my phone as payment..

      • CaityJones

        Starbucks is not a Dwolla merchant, so as of now, you cannot pay with Dwolla at Starbucks. However, Starbucks is a leader in adopting mobile payment technology. They have their own mobile Starbucks card, that allows you to pay via your phone, and they have recently declared a partnership with Square, that allows customers to walk in and recognize them via their phone signal, and charge their account without the customers having to pull out cash or credit card.

    • CaityJones

      Nope you are correct, the only places that you can use Dwolla as a payment option right now are at places that have a Dwolla account and accept Dwolla as a payment option. We are always actively working to expand our market and to sign on more retailers/merchants, and as our team grows so do our community development and support resources.

      • earsz70

        How about a banner with every transaction asking:” Where would you like to see Dwolla?” That’s what’s PayPal i s doing now to expand the ranks that accept PayPal. Then you can go to the named seller and say its customers are demanding the service, get with the program _ in a gracious nice way of course. *grin* Give PayPal a run for its money!. My price margin is about 40 percent above ITEM cost, before other costs kick in. Site discounts already eat into that like a street urchin at a feast, and so do PayPal fees. I’ll happily pay your 25 cents so I don’t have to increase my prices because of various transaction fees. Another step: Provide an easy effective simply quick “sign up for Dwolla” link within every transaction, for those buyers or sellers who haven’t yet.__maybe a one-time guest use that the buyer can convert at leisure later. And find same clever way to point out pithily with impact that using Dwolla enables sellers to hold down prices _ a clever sign might do the trick. . Finally, find some instantly impactful way to show the BUYER a benefit if the buyer uses Dwolla. I’m low on creativity after 36 hours’ working, or no doubt I’d have some suggestions *grin* hmm, get a small cadre of Dwolla-happy sellers who will agree to offer for a brief time real SUPER bargains on hotly desired stuff, and keep the items rotating out to make way for new ones _ think up a tricky catchy name for this (something better than Dwolla Power, all I can manage at the moment. Line up a cadre of legitimate BUYERS who gently and politely besiege a prospective seller and then walk away because he can’t take their money. Start a Twitter campaign: Made your Dwolla today? with a link, of course. Create a way for dorks like me to post an “I accept Dwolla” button that’s as easy to use as the ones for Faceook, Twitter, Digg, etc And get some in-your-face-but nicely high-impact colors for it all. When you post a photo promo, make it sharply effectivem not just another snapp. And someone come can come up an integrated greatly humorous theme and scheme to interweave throughout all Dwolla operations _ to talk people talking, Look how the “got milk” drive was great on its own and, further, has spread to everything: “Got game?” etc. A probably kooky idea that might fit in somewhere, in a better form: Dwolla Means Dwo$$as (only make dollar signs thin like “ll” is thin. or maybe no, make FAT $ dollars. Make the next T-shirts Read Dolla for Dwo$$as with one of thos eskinny kooky looking dangig girls being gleelfully ecstatic of that prospective. Do some YouTubes _ come up with just right thing it ” go viral. Uhm, think I need to quit. Duh !!!

  • RomyB

    What if the seller has a Dwolla account and the buyer has not but has a legitimate bank account or debit card, can a transaction be still push thru?

    • CaityJones

      If the buyer does not have a Dwolla account, they would not be able to pay via Dwolla. Most vendors that accept Dwolla still offer cash, debit and credit card payment options alongside the Dwolla option.

  • Sandy

    When money is deposited into my account by someone then in turn when I withdrew it to my bank, how long does it take being transferred to my bank? Is it 3-4 days like PayPal?

  • Colin


    So lets say I am at a coffee shop and want to utilize this instant feature..

    For this to even be an option, the coffee shop has to accept Dwolla as a form a payment, correct?

    • CaityJones


  • Ginger

    You don’t explain it very well.

    • CaityJones

      Hi Ginger? Which parts are you confused about, I’d be willing to try to clear things up a bit.

  • John

    How do you import your picture Changing the avatar?

    • CaityJones

      Login to Dwolla > Account Settings (at the bottom of left hand side column) > Change Avatar > Upload File (choose file on your computer) > Change Avatar

      If you’re having trouble uploading, it may be because the file size is too big. If you need help uploading, you can email support@dwolla.com with your image and account number and we can upload it for you.

  • Christopher

    Maybe if you made a video of how to buy a coffee at Starbucks using Dwolla Instant, it would make more sense. I’m just now stumbling upon Dwolla after reading an article in the NYTimes. I will be experimenting with it later today with my friends, but at this moment, I’m a little confused about how it works (unless my friends and businesses I shop at are also Dwolla users, in which case it makes sense).

    • CaityJones

      Great idea Christopher, thanks for posting. Right now only businesses that have a Dwolla account can accept Dwolla as a payment option. And only users that have a Dwolla account can pay with Dwolla.

      If you have any questions that pop up while you are experimenting, don’t hesitate to email us at support@dwolla.com. We’d love to help clear any confusion up.

  • Eric Lannert

    Ben – I saw you speak in Chicago at Techweek this year and love everything about dwolla. I have been trying to figure out how to use it in our organization. at first i tried having our customers pay us with it, but the a/p of bigger orgs said nfw. now i’m trying it for paying my vendors, where i can make it mandatory. however, what i’d *really* like is to use it for payroll. i don’t think an industry exists with lower customer sat than payroll processors. the fees in payroll land are as bad or worse than banking, so even giving me the option to cover the fee’s for my employees to get their dwolla-exchanged-to-bills we will still come out way ahead. this solves your n-sided market problem. it puts dwollas into people’s hands which is what you need to get merchants to pay attention. and its a b2b cheap sales strategy, as we all *hate* our providers.

    • CaityJones

      Eric – If you’re interested in using Dwolla for payroll, have you had a chance to check out Dwolla Masspay? :) http://blog.dwolla.com/masspay-launces-with-10-new-partners/

      • Eric Lannert

        Thanks! Yes, that’s what I’m planning to use. My concern though, relates to the comments in this thread – the payees need to be able to convert it to cash faster, and i’d be willing to pay for that.

        • CaityJones

          Hey this seems like a great opportunity – can I put you in touch with Alex T who runs our business partnerships? He’ll be able to talk to you about some of the things we’ve been working on to solve pay out pain points –> alext@dwolla.com

  • Barnett Klane

    What is the maximum amount of funds one can get per transaction of instant?

    • CaityJones

      You can be authorized for up to $500 through Instant. With a general Dwolla transaction (added from your bank account) you can send $5,000 per transaction as a personal user and $10,000 as a business user.

  • Ayden Alberry

    Question I can’t seem to find an answer to – I’m interested in Dwolla Instant. It’s partially what drew me here instead of other payment ‘apps’ and the like, but I don’t see anything on my account about it. Nothing at all like it says above. Did it already fall off the face of the earth or am I missing something?

    • CaityJones

      All of the positions that we had available for Dwolla are now full. As our lending partners open up more spots, we will be sure to let our users know. We are working to make it a more robust feature on our website, and this expansion has taken some time and will take a bit longer. We look forward to rolling out more products during 2013 that I think you’re going to like.

  • lucy

    do i still need to have a bank account to use dwolla?

    • CaityJones

      You do not need a bank account to set up a Dwolla account or to receive money from other users. However, if you want to withdraw or deposit funds in your Dwolla account, you’ll need to add a bank account to do so. You cannot load accounts with things like credit or gift cards.

      • Volder

        Didn’t fully get the idea, if I don’t have bank account, but opened dwolla account and someone has paid me, can I then pay using money from dwolla account (in store or to friend) without connecting any of my bank accounts to dwolla?

        • CaityJones

          Yes, you can do all of that without connecting your bank account.

  • Dave

    Can I use dwolla to transfer money between personal bank accounts?

    • CaityJones

      You can. And there is no $0.25 fee. Any withdraw or deposit between your linked bank accounts to or from Dwolla is not charged.

  • gene@shadowridgevet.com

    So it this works only if the seller & the buyer both have a Dwolla account how will the buyer know before walking into the store that the seller can accommodate him or her.

    • CaityJones

      Correct, as of now both the buyer and the seller have to have a Dwolla account in the situation that you described above. There is an online guest checkout option that you can learn more about here: http://blog.dwolla.com/guest-checkout/.

      As for not knowing if a merchant accepts Dwolla or not, this situation is comparable to walking into a store and not knowing if they accept Mastercard or Visa. Many times a seller will make it known that they accept Dwolla, whether this be with a window cling, a sticker, a sign, or simply telling a customer that they prefer that next time they pay with Dwolla. You can also download the Dwolla app and click on the “Around Me” button to see merchants nearby that accept Dwolla.

      We try to arm merchants with the tools that allow them to communicate that they do accept Dwolla.

  • Zeno

    So the credit card guys protect you from fraud and will reach out and solve that problem without my help or convenience. Does Dwolla do the same for a compromised transaction?

    • CaityJones

      We have an amazing security team that will reach out to customers if suspicious activity shows up on the account.

  • jimmyboy

    Instant my a$$. Everything involving adding or withdrawing money from Dwolla seems to take 8-10 business days.

    • CaityJones

      This is our Instant credit product, that actually fronts you the funds so that you can make Instant Dwolla payments. ACH payments (bank to Dwolla, bank to bank, Dwolla to bank) take more time because of what they are, and old system. That’s exactly why we built FiSync (http://blog.dwolla.com/ach-goes-real-time-with-fisync-free-for-banks-and-credit-unions/), and are working hard at getting it integrated into more financial institutions so we can move funds in real-time, and offer something really special for more of our users.

  • IG

    Nice e-wallet, may be good for internet, but not for off-line world, I already see someone trying in the shop to find a shop in the app to put the password and follow all this complicated procedure, I mean it is way easier to use the card, plus, I think people loose their phones much more often then the wallets, and there is the same chance to forgett the wallet as the phone

    • CaityJones

      I do believe that wallets still hold their place today, but as we move into a more digital age I do believe there will be a time when we stop carrying around a piece of leather or plastic that holds all of our personal financial and identifying information. Credit cards are extremely easy to use, and it’s that ease of use that motivates us to keep improving our product.

  • https://www.YourMobileImage.com Richard

    Hi.. Im a business and want to pay my independent sales reps using Dwolla. Ive set up an account. If I need to get money into my account quickly for a pay period, It is my understanding that I should set up “Instant” so the money will be transferred from my bank instantly to fund my Dwolla account so I can send money to my sales reps… is that correct? Also, There are small monthly recurring fess that I pay to may sales reps… can I set up these recurring payments to my reps using Dwolla? One last question… what is the Cash Plus Card one of my sales reps just mentioned? They want to know how once i transfer money to their Dwolla account they can access it?

    • CaityJones

      Hi Richard, Dwolla Instant is currently no longer available to users on the Dwolla network. It didn’t make bank transfers faster, it was more similar to a personal extension of credit. Currently, bank transfers into the Dwolla network take approximately 3-4 days to process, and transfers out of the network to your bank account happen in as little as one business day. We do have a recurring option that you could set up on your Dwolla account—with frequency being monthly, bi-monthly, or weekly. As far as the Cash Plus Card, Dwolla can only connect to bank and credit union accounts and currently we accept no cards on the network—it’s how we keep our costs so low. If you’d like personal assistance in getting anything set up with your account, we’d be happy to chat with you at support@dwolla.com.

  • kevin

    how do opt in for an instant transaction from my bank account to mu dwolla account or to another dwolla user?

    • CaityJones

      Hi Kevin, as of March 28, 2014, we closed the Instant Beta program. Thank you for reaching out.

  • GUNS333

    Other than on NLOP poker site I haven’t come across one merchant that uses Dwolla….I’m in NC. What businesses use this?

Financial institutions play an important role in the Dwolla network.

Dwolla, Inc. is an agent of Veridian Credit Union and Compass Bank and all funds associated with your account in the Dwolla network are held in pooled accounts at Veridian Credit Union and Compass Bank. These funds are not eligible for individual insurance, including FDIC insurance and may not be eligible for share insurance by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. Dwolla, Inc. is the operator of a software platform that communicates user instructions for funds transfers to Veridian Credit Union and Compass Bank.