A few months ago a small company presented me with something rather astonishing that I thought might be too good to be true.

That thing, was a major network issued card that settled against my Dwolla balance. Which means, everywhere that major card network is accepted, Dwolla is accepted.

With a mild amount of skepticism… I thought this sounded great but wasn’t sure what to make of it.

A few months of living with it though and I feel differently…

Since I got the card. I’ve used it at the Apple store, to get gas, and even to acquire foreign currency.

I did my first currency exchange with Dwolla this week ($ to €/£) and I had nothing to do with it. Developers did it.

I’m even typing this from Germany where I’ll use it to pay for my dinner.

What I didn’t like initially:

  • The idea that the merchant would not get the same great rate they could get if they came to Dwolla.com. If they used Dwolla directly they’d pay no transaction fees.
  • That I had to carry yet another piece of plastic.
  • That in some way, it will drive a lot of money to the existing system and providers.

What I ended up really liking:

  • As a consumer who has a Dwolla balance… I pay with Dwolla, everywhere. That’s something I can believe in.
  • No one seems to ask me questions about my ugly card. I get what I want and that’s the end of it. No selling. That’s something I can believe in.
  • I buy everything, everywhere, with this thing. I’ve been all over the world with this thing and I’ve used my Dwolla money to get everything I want. That’s something I can believe in.
  • This card uses cards the way I’ve always seen them. As a trigger to a server.  That’s something I can believe in.
  • The software behind the card is a application living on a server leveraging the Dwolla API and being supported by a business whose livelihood is dependent on a great user experience. That’s something I can believe in.
  • The developers brought in the bank to provide the card. We did not do that. They, and the bank, built and are building the business around it and they’ll all probably do quite well.
  • I didn’t start carrying more plastic. I actually stopped using 2 other cards I used to carry.
  • The card enabled me to spend my Dwolla balance in places that can’t even use Dwolla yet, like in Germany.

Why I think people will love this thing:

  • I can de-authorize the app (that has a card attached) if I lose it.
  • Purchases show up in real-time the same way you’ve come to appreciate about your notifications of Dwolla-only purchases. I can attest to seeing cash coming out of an ATM and seeing my Dwolla balance go down instantly.
  • When you carry one of these, when they’re made available, you can use Dwolla everywhere you want.
  • There is a large and growing group of people and businesses who are paid through Dwolla and this will help a good percentage of them spend that money where Dwolla isn’t accepted if they don’t have a traditional bank account.

Everywhere I go, anywhere in the world I go, I pay with Dwolla at this point.

Not sometimes… All the time.

Amazon, Jackthreads, Facebook, Hy-Vee, Apple, or otherwise. I pay with Dwolla regardless of whether or not they even know that’s how I’m paying.

Dwolla isn’t everywhere yet and that’s ok. Those that want it can opt in and millions of other people will start participating either way through applications built by developers.

In a world with developers, the money is able to find its own way to where it needs to go.

Entrepreneurs are building businesses building the gap between the atoms(existing money) and the bits(Dwolla) and subsequently building businesses on top of it.

To make things even more interesting, financial institutions are empowering the change and driving revenues along the way.

No one is fighting here… They’re all making money and the consumer ends up with a better product and more choices.

The real leverage in real-time payments here is where the  company(and bank) don’t have to wait until the end of the day to pull in funds for what is spent. They stream the money in… 

The presence of Dwolla’s real-time changes the risk structure for their product, their businesses, and the experience the end user has.

This is pretty cool and I’m excited for more people to get this product.