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Ben Milne

I write, read, and make things.
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Same Day ACH in a API

Dwolla just brought Same Day ACH online for our customers and I’m super pleased with how it works. I wrote about this briefly in the past but looking at just how simple it is for people to build into their app just puts a big smile on my face.

Existing customers sending money simply designate they want the transaction to go Same Day ACH rather than regular ACH.

The team did a great job keeping this simple. It’s going to save people a ton of time.

focus

Focus is good

There is an update that was put on Dwolla’s website today called Focus. The post is about functionality that will no longer be supported in our products.

Sunsetting features is nothing new for the company but this feels different.

It feels different because it is.

All of things changing in the company don’t get shared as a part of a product change like this but in the company you can feel it. The way the team talks about how the company and our products work is different.

The team isn’t making phone calls about mobile payments, they’re focusing on bringing the next group of companies online with access to the banking infrastructure through our APIs. That shift in our business is being reflected in our products.

The team might be testing an app, but it’s someone else’s. Every Test Flight app I’ve been added to this year has been someone else building an app that moves money and they use Dwolla’s API to do it.

These changes are not just part of a process to focus the company and our platform on what’s working well in our business, our white label products, it’s a recognition that we can’t be the best in the world at everything.

We can and should strive be the best in the world at a small number of things and there isn’t any confusion about what that is in our company. It’s building the ideal API to move money.

We know that if you want to send money to another person you can pick an app for that. Heck, you can even do it in your e-mail these days.

However, if you want to build a piece of software that connects you to the banking infrastructure. We’re here to help.

Focus is a good thing.

Team

I genuinely like the people I work with. Each one of them has taught me something new and certainly, at times, helped change my perspective.

Dwolla has gone through a tremendous number of changes over the past 12 months and we’re about to go through one of the more profound changes in our short history. Our focus is changing from something you download to something software developers use to build great software. Those changes are going to start taking shape in our product over the next few weeks.

If you’ve been following the company closely you may have already started to see some of these changes manifest themselves in different ways.

It’s a huge effort across the company and it involves every one of us. In a recent internal presentation I was trying to find a good way to represent this and could think of no better way than sharing these pictures with the company.

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Clearly, not everyone fit on one slide and I needed to add a second.

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Same Day ACH

Same Day ACH is kind of an obvious stop gap between normal ACH and a future real-time ACH-ish equivalent. I say ACH-ish because I still don’t believe that the real-time option is a modified ACH, it’s probably something else.

Same Day ACH on the other hand is going to be available soon and does a few things that most of us want:

  • Gets money into bank accounts faster.
  • Gets money out of bank accounts faster.
  • Follows ACH best practices for what is already known to work well.

If Same Day ACH is new to you and you care deeply about payments technology in the United States these are some good reads put out by the Dwolla team:

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Friday Finds: Good Reads

Jami convinced me to start sharing some the reading I’ve been consuming lately. I’m going to try to start sharing 3 per week. This week:

1. An MIT Scientist Claims That This Pill Is the Fountain of Youth

I mean. What could go wrong?

2. Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience

Brilliant and wonderfully well done. This morning over breakfast I read a letter from a cartoon artist to a fan, a suicide note, and a letter from Hunter S. Thompson. None of which would I have come across in everyday life.

It may not all be entertaining or put a smile on your face but it’s certainly good at creating pause and making you think. The stories also seem to drive a lot of conversation which is always fun.

3. Andreessen Horowitz’s Returns Trail Venture-Capital Elite &
When Is a “Mark” Not a Mark?

These are good reads because in my experience controversy tends to drive emotions and emotions lead smart people to make public declarations on complex issues they would otherwise never make.

The reason I always find this so amazing is these types of debates on this scale normally result new information being presented that wasn’t previously available or commonly known.

Most of the things I learned initially about engineering I learned from reading engineers fight about the right way to do things. More often than not both sides were right but they ended up putting all kinds of information online they probably shouldn’t have.

When really smart people debate take a moment and read the words. There’s normally a lot more substance in the debate than a side to take.

Disclaimer: Andreessen Horowitz is an investor in Dwolla.

Automation we will live to see

// Over the last few months I’ve been back on a plane quite a bit. Its given me time to do some reading. Specifically, Cybernation, Who owns the future, and But, What if We’re Wrong.  //

You’d be right to expect this has something to do with financial services, but doesn’t! A lot of the discussions floating around on this topic have very little to do with FinTech.

Most of the discussed automation and where it’s expected to occur is fairly obvious. In financial services, the automation is focused on taking processes that involve paper+people, where people create a compounding error. The automation reduces that cost center by reducing the number of errors and through that automation is valuable.

An easy example where a company like Dwolla can help customers using automation is in the ACH returns and corrections process. An analyst reviewing lines in a batch file and clicking buttons doesn’t really help a business operate more efficiently and it introduces a number of things that could go wrong. Automating the ACH return process through an API saves everyone time.

By and large, automation has allowed financial businesses to reinvest in more people where they can generate greater value for the company. Handing paper between two people is not typically*1 a high value task.

Back office automation isn’t really obvious to individuals in organizations who don’t have access to, or read, the P&L. It might show up as increased margins for the accounting folks and leadership, but otherwise its success fades into the background. It also seems to be the focus of angst for those holding jobs that could be displaced by future automation, as well as those among us who believe they are important/creative/human enough not to be replaced by an automated task. Continue Reading

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