By: Ben Milne,

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:

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.

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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.