Behind the Idea Editor's Choice Paytech Trending

Behind the Idea: Dwolla

While some businesses had already taken small steps towards a digital transformation, COVID-19 has actively pushed the remainder to embrace it – or face an uncertain future. Almost overnight, companies have started to realise that online payments aren’t just safer for their customers and employees—but also more affordable. 

Over in the US, there are reports of large swathes of property management companies, healthcare systems and retailers actively adapting to solutions that can be embedded into new applications, while still matching their branding. 

Brady Harris is the CEO of Dwolla, the programmable payments platform. He’s best known for accelerating growth and successfully scaling innovative financial technology businesses in the US.

Brady Harris, CEO of Dwolla

What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?

COVID-19 has forced many companies to experience an acceleration of digital transformation projects. As consumers started interacting with businesses in different ways, businesses were forced to adapt. One of the major innovations is a contactless payment experience through a mobile application. 

How has this changed over the past few years?

I’m not sure if restaurants ever planned on taking orders through a mobile application but now they are and reaching their customers and accepting payments without even having to serve them in a dining room. We’re seeing companies invest in creating or enhancing their mobile experience to ensure it’s convenient and easy to use for their customers. And to prevent drop-offs during the checkout process, it means having a reliable payment process to ensure the sale is complete. 

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

Dwolla has always been about changing the status quo and doing so with a team that believes inclusion fuels innovation. That’s what has made Dwolla successful in the past and is a core value that will guide us as we release new features and enhancements to our platform moving forward.  

If there’s anything COVID-19 has taught us it’s that businesses will need to interact with their customers in completely different ways. That starts with accepting or collecting payments from their users or customers in an easy-to-use way—while also being secure and reliable. It’s been trying times but Dwolla has gotten a lot of momentum as well. 

What FinTech ideas have been implemented?

Companies are embracing the move to virtual, both with their office space and payment processes. Instead of going to the office and mailing paper checks, we are seeing companies look to digitize their payments and move money electronically in a more automated and programmable way. Rather than writing or depositing checks, businesses and their customers can enter banking information to send or collect payments—saving on the traditional fees and processing costs.

What benefits have these brought?

Avoiding these costs allows a business to reinvest in their employees. You don’t know what you don’t know, but we’re seeing customers save thousands of dollars each month on fees and charges that traditionally have always been the “cost of doing business.” That’s not the case anymore, and offering a digital payment experience is becoming the rule, not the exception. Our mission statement centers on the principle of “empowering innovators to change the world through modern payments,” and these are some of the ways we’re doing that. 

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?:

Today, organizations are struggling to move money in a secure, scalable and simple way. Usually moving money comes with a hefty price tag, lengthy transfer times and the risk of fraud. That doesn’t have to be the case. 

Can these challenges be aided by Fintech?

Absolutely, and that’s currently what is happening. What we’re doing at Dwolla is lowering the price tag for transactions, shortening the transfer timeline and doing so in a way that’s protecting sensitive information. ACH payments, or electronic, bank-to-bank transactions, are safer ways for organizations to move money. By plugging in a payment API, these organizations are now able to securely move money without having to send their customers to a third-party for verification or surprise them with additional fees. We’re allowing companies of all sizes to automate their payments and do so in a way that scales effectively.

Final thoughts…

Despite the last few months being filled with challenges, opportunities to think creatively about how businesses can interact with their customers have also occurred. And it really starts and ends with the payment experience. To the consumer, money movement should be as easy as inputting financial information and clicking a button. For the business, there should be automated record keeping and necessary friction points to deter bad actors from transacting. That’s what we’re offering at Dwolla, a modern way to move money simply and securely.


  • Gina is a fintech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

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