Dwolla Review: Features, Pricing, Pros and Cons
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Dwolla makes it possible for businesses to integrate with the Automated Clearing House network to send and receive ACH payments. It’s a white-label service, meaning you can add the software to your platform and customize it to match your business’s branding. With lower per-transaction fees than a typical payment processor, it's a good option for businesses that only accept payments via bank transfer.
Businesses accepting bank-transfer payments, like real-estate investors, utility providers, wealth management businesses and reimbursement services.
Pay-as-you-go at 0.5% per transfer. Bundled plans start at $250 per month.
Accepted payment methods
ACH payments (bank account to bank account). Works with all U.S. banks and credit unions.
Varies; contracts can be pay-as-you-go, monthly or annual, depending on plan.
Funds available next-day and same-day with annual contract, otherwise standard ACH transfer timing (three to four business days) applies.
Dwolla online help center for all users; dedicated support team available only with annual contract for Scale plan or Custom plan.
How does Dwolla work?
Dwolla enables businesses to accept ACH payments, an alternative to paying with cash, credit, debit or check. Customers can electronically transfer funds directly from their bank account into your business bank account, and you can send ACH payments back to your customers for credits and refunds.
ACH is a payment system for transferring money electronically in the U.S. Examples of ACH payments include paying friends with a Venmo or PayPal account linked to your bank, paying your utility bill online using your bank account or receiving a direct deposit from an employer.
Compared to credit card payments, ACH payments come with a lower processing fee because merchants don’t have to pay credit card issuers and networks fees. ACH payments are also easier to accept because bank account numbers change far less frequently than credit card numbers. Also, once you have a recipient's bank account information, you can arrange for ACH transfers to be automated, making them a great option for recurring payments, like rent and subscriptions.
When you set up a business account with Dwolla and receive verification, you will be able to hold funds in your account received from payments, much like a digital wallet. You can use funds held in your account to make other payments or transfer them to a business bank account.
For customers and merchants alike, Dwolla offers two verification processes: instant account verification and micro-deposits. Instant verification requires customers to log into their bank account from the Dwolla platform, while micro-deposits send a tiny sum to the customer’s bank account to verify their banking information.
Note that you can still send and receive money with Dwolla without verifying your account. Unverified accounts only require you to provide your full name and email address, but you are limited to $5,000 in transfers per week. Unverified users cannot hold a balance in their digital wallet and can only send and receive funds to or from a verified user.
Scheduled and recurring payments
You can arrange for payments to be transferred from customers’ bank accounts to your Dwolla account on a specific date. In addition, you can arrange for these scheduled payments to be recurring.
Integrations and add-ons
Dwolla currently offers four integrations with third-party products.
Slack: Automatically sends payment reports to notify team members of important account updates, including failed transfers, successful verifications, negative balances and more.
Plaid: Allows users to instantly link and verify their bank accounts within the Dwolla platform. The company also tokenizes and stores data, meaning the merchant doesn’t have to store financial information within their own platform so you aren’t responsible for PCI compliance.
Sift Science: Fraud monitoring system that uses machine learning and data on past transactions to determine the likelihood of new transactions being fraudulent.
QuickBooks: Exports ACH payment and transfer reports in real time, improving accounting accuracy and minimizing the need for manual data entry.
Dwolla verifies customer bank accounts and ensures sensitive information can’t pass through your servers, which helps reduce the risks of ACH returns and fraud. The company also encrypts all information being sent over its network, protecting you and your customers from having your information stolen.
Dwolla promises annually contracted customers a dedicated support team, including direct communication with developers and account managers. It also has a chatbot feature on its website, as well as a help line and email address.
0.5% per transfer (minimum 5 cents, maximum $5).
Starting at $250 per month.
Starting at $1,000 per month.
Starting at $2,000 per month.
The company's website advertises four pricing options: Pay-As-You-Go, Launch, Scale and Custom. The cost of the latter three plans can vary based on your monthly transaction volume and desired features.
All plans offer the following features:
Tools and features that can be customized to carry your business’s branding.
Scalable payment technology.
Integrations with platforms like QuickBooks and Plaid.
Drop-in components, which allow users to add fields to customer accounts with minimal coding.
Webhooks notifications (custom website code that opens applications after specific trigger events), which notify you when customers are created, verified or suspended, transfers are completed or failed, and more.
The Launch plan offers all of the above, plus:
Next-day and same-day transfers.
Additional use cases for $250 each per month.
Higher transfer volume limits at additional cost.
Dedicated support for an additional $500 per month.
The Scale plan offers:
Dedicated support included.
Next-day and same-day transfers.
Bundled transfer fees for 20,000 to 50,000 transfers per year.
Additional transfer types, including push-to-debit, real-time payments and wire transfers.
Additional use cases for $250 each per month.
Higher transfer volume limits for $500 per month.
The Custom plan includes all of the above features. However, some feature pricing including higher transfer volume limits is quote-based, meaning you'll need to speak with a sales representative who can make a recommendation based on your customer base, growth projection and sales volume.
Low transaction fees
Dwolla charges 0.5% per transaction, which is significantly lower than regular payment processor fees. This is due to the platform’s ACH-only capabilities, so you don’t have to pay the credit card network every time you process a payment. Monthly fees for higher-level plans add to the overall costs, but over the long haul, the low transaction fees could lead to significant savings compared to other payment processors offering ACH payments.
Unlike other payment processors that offer ACH payments, Dwolla allows you to incorporate its ACH payment technology into your platform under your own branding. This can make your brand appear more reputable and streamlined for customers. It also allows you to customize the payment experience in a way that makes sense for your business, which improves the user experience offered by your brand.
No credit transactions
Dwolla does not offer credit card transactions, while other payment service providers offer both credit and ACH payments. You may lose customers if you take away their preferred payment method.
You can use Dwolla as well as a separate credit card payment processor, but alternatives like Stripe and Paypal that include both may be a better option if you don't want to pay for two different products.
Stripe: More customizable
Stripe is a payment processor that also offers ACH payments. Running ACH payments costs 0.8% per transaction (capped at $5). You can also process credit card transactions at a rate of 2.9% plus 30 cents for online payments.
Other features include the option to build an embeddable checkout page, an invoicing platform and a fraud prevention system. It’s also a pay-as-you-go payment processor, meaning you can cancel your service at any time for no additional fee.
PayPal: More payment options
Another payment processor that offers ACH payments is PayPal — but you won’t get a white-label service like you would with Dwolla.
Using PayPal also gives you access to a range of additional services, including a payment gateway, financing options and even a debit card. Payment processing fees on credit card transactions are 2.29% plus 9 cents for in-person payments and 2.59% plus 49 cents for online transactions.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.