Sunday, January 27, 2013

Businesses, start accepting Dwolla

It's a panicky feeling when you reach into your pocket to pay for something and realize that you forgot your wallet! This happened at least twice to me in the last few months. I almost never forget my cell phone, though.

And just now I read about a lawyer who spent the night in jail because he forgot his wallet and couldn't pay his $208 restaurant bill. He had his cell phone with him, though. I dread becoming the next victim.

This brings me to: businesses, get with the program and start accepting mobile payments!
Oh, but the landscape is changing so quickly! Are any of mobile payment services any good yet?
Yes. Dwolla is good. It's like PayPal, but with significantly lower fees and better integration with banks. Money transfers are free for transactions under $10, and a flat 25 cents otherwise. Aside from training your staff on this new system, there's literally no downside. It's cheaper than credit cards, secure, instant, and works great when a customer forgets his wallet!
 Dwolla?! Why would I go with some no-name?
Let's talk alternatives. How about the Near-Field Communication (NFC) methods that are in vogue now? Well, these require special hardware. Very few phones support this now, and it seems unlikely that more phones will start supporting it in the future. The latest phones don't. Additionally, there's a battle going on between Google and Verizon, with both trying to start competing mobile payment systems. It's a mess. The point is, the biggest problem is that NFC requires special hardware both on the merchant end and on the customer's end, which means cooperation of many entities.

The easier approach is to require merely a smartphone and an app. Dwolla and PayPal fall into this category. Be a good merchant and accept both! PayPal is on par with credit card companies when it comes to transaction fees. Dwolla, on the other hand, is committed to low overhead costs. That's its biggest draw for me and many others. It's the only mobile payment system that allows transactions at near-par value! Cash is king. Checks clear at par value, but are inconvenient for both parties. Dwolla is mobile, safe, instant, and almost free. Revolutionary!

Whether you're a merchant or a consumer, consider joining the revolution. We need more people on both sides of the equation. If I inspired you to look into Dwolla, use my referral link to join and get $10 in credit.

If you live in Coralville or Iowa City, the Electric Beach Tanning Salon accepts Dwolla (thanks to me) and even offers a limited-time discount if you pay with Dwolla or cash.