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Ben Milne

I write, read, and make things.

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

dashboard@2x

A real-time dashboard for bank transfers

At the end of last year, Dwolla’s white label APIs started to ship and it kicked off a number of projects internally.

One of those internal projects was re-thinking the way information is delivered to developers building applications that leverage Dwolla for ACH transfers.

The concept for the project was to create an insightful view for developers and their business counterparts. It was also to build a dashboard and admin tool so that our partners don’t have to build their own unless they want to.

The idea was released today as the new Dwolla dashboard and the team took an incredibly thoughtful approach with it. For those building on top of the ACH API, we hope you enjoy it!

This is the most recent in a never-ending pursuit to save developers time, get businesses/new ideas to market faster, and give businesses clear insights into what’s going on in their application.

Build fintech products, faster.

A key advantage to developers using Dwolla’s white label APIs is that they get their businesses to market faster.

There are other advantages to big established businesses but this article has precisely nothing to do with that.

Very plainly speaking…

Ease of access for developers with a strong market need means more experiments will be built. More experiments being built means a higher probability of one of them taking off. When one of them does, everyone wins.

Not all experiments work, so in order to find ones that do, we need to make it as easy as possible for experiments to take place.

Experiments really mean: new businesses or business ideas.

Dwolla has made it really easy for companies to build new ideas and get into market with a infrastructure that leverages bank transfers and moves money for free.

Aside from the free transactions part of that, here is what excites me about what I see happening on a daily basis.

When I got started building Dwolla, it took significant time and investment to get it off the ground and it cost me my life savings. Generally speaking:

  • What is cost me: 2 years
  • Team of: 2
  • Cost pre-market: ~$80K

Let’s assume that time is worth $20 dollars an hour at 40 hours a week, which is a lot less time than any of us would put into launching a company.

Call it ~$40K per year, per person. Cost of ~$80K if you really carefully manage the money. It’s easy to spend a lot more.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.57.27 PM

It cost me a lot.

It doesn’t cost new companies getting into the market anywhere near that. Continue Reading

Case Studies

The Dwolla team has put together some nice case studies about how our technology is being used by our customers. They’ve done a really nice job pulling together a clear narrative with a beautiful design.

GOAT

dwolla-case-study-ach-api-1

Continue Reading

Sacred Moments

Life is full of weird and fleeting experiences. Most of which will be forgotten because the memory isn’t important enough to be called upon. It’s unfortunate, yet true, that most of life is comprised of things that may influence you but are mostly forgettable because the experience is insignificant and truly unimportant.

Thankfully, there are also experiences in life which are serendipitous and completely unforgettable. We all have these and they are rarely calculated. I feel fortunate because I think one of the reasons I’m optimistic about the world is that I have had far more positive serendipitous experiences to draw from than negative. I know the world is far better than worse and people are far better than bad as a result.

This week has given me the opportunity to appreciate a different type of moment. Continue Reading

A perfect memory

I’ve been talking about this a lot privately lately.

Now that we have technology that operates by default in a way where those computers retain a perfect memory that can’t be edited, forever, what will we do with it?

There is a seemingly endless amount of moral and ethical questions that come from this conversation. Continue Reading

The Power of Default

I served with a board member a few years back who said something that I’m reminded of on a regular basis.

Never underestimate the power of the default setting.

What he meant by that wasn’t always user-centric. At least I don’t think so.

This is an interesting statement when put into the context of how powerful default providers are in new FinTech software.
Continue Reading

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