Is Dwolla for you?
Quick Pitch: Dwolla is a peer-to-peer payment platform that allows social network users to exchange money quickly and at a low cost.
Genius Idea: Hey, remember that fellow who spotted you a drink at last night’s social media drinkup? If you want to pay him back but you’re more likely to know his Twitter handle than his e-mail address, Dwolla might be a good service for you to check out.
Dwolla is a simple service that lets you connect to Facebook andTwitter to send and receive funds. Once your checking or savings account is linked to Dwolla and your social network contacts are imported (an automatic process that occurs programmatically behind the scenes), you can send money to any of your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.
Peer-to-peer payments are hardly a new concept, and startup Dwolla isn’t the first company to devise a way to send sums through social networks. Still, this iteration has its merits.
Pay Me, a peer-to-peer payments Facebook app, rolled out back in 2007 with Paypal integration. And TwitPayhas been around since 2009. Paypal itself launched a Facebook app called Send Money in 2009. But all of these apps are currently out of commission, as far as their intended purposes are concerned.
Here’s the thing: The second you show people a way to send money online, scammers will find a way to take money online using your app. It’s a principle analogous to Newton’s third law of motion, and nearly as inviolable.
So, many of these social money-sending apps have been repurposed as charitable fundraising apps. But other parties are working on the social money-sending problem, including Buxter (a Facebook app from online payment system ClickandBuy) and Paypal, which announced micropayments and Facebook integration a couple months ago.
While Dwolla bills itself as “Paypal without the fees,” it actually does charge per transaction; however, in this case, it’s the recipient who pays a small fee of $0.25 per transaction regardless of the amount sent.
The startup allows for “hub” pages, microsites any user can create for requesting or sending money.
We’re not at all sure that Dwolla is scam-proof; in the end, users still have to know and trust the people and organizations they’re sending money to — something that should be carefully scrutinized when social networks come into play.
In the end, only time will tell if Dwolla has the sticking power its predecessors have all lacked.
Here’s a demo video of the Dwolla founder sending money to Sean Parker: