I shared this with a friend a few years ago. It’s humbling to work on a project long enough to see most of your best work replaced by something new. A lot of the work I contributed to in the early days at Dwolla, we’ve shut down or replaced. Even my early business models have been replaced a few times.
It’s been a somewhat therapeutic exercise to talk about some of this with friends/founders lately. There’s no shame in discontinuing a product. No more than when a better engineer replaces something you did years prior or a better designer replaces something you created around the same time.
Companies, brands, and technology are meant to evolve. Sometimes that evolution is just an end to a product.
We stopped selling FiSync
We built FiSync to facilitate real-time transactions. It did just that and we launched it to decent fanfare. The idea was that if we could get it into market, others would adopt it, and the regulation would emerge to provide proper oversight to how the system should be allowed to operate.
What happened in reality. Cost to support it was crazy without a path to ubiquity. The market is still waiting for a regulator to be named and who knows when that will happen. We’re contributing to real-time initiatives in the US now in different ways, like with Fedfast. The truth is that the millions of dollars needed to maintain & sell FiSync in the market the market just doesn’t make sense on these timelines. We’ve taken the knowledge we gained and made it available to anyone to download and learn from.
Tough choice. We can buy time or shelf it. Buying time is expensive.
We’ve taken a slightly different approach to real-time that is somewhat similar to the way we handled Same Day ACH. We focus on making the infrastructure that’s in place easy to use and drastically reduce the work for our customers to use it.
We shut down the mobile apps
What happened in reality. Mobile apps anyone can use for free are a dime a dozen and mobile payment adoption still hasn’t really cracked the mainstream. While Apple pay and others have certainly raised continued awareness outside of a very small (but very active) group of users we never saw it take off the way we it saw it happen in Des Moines. ReadWriteWeb even called Des Moines the mobile payment capital of the world once, and at the time I think it was probably true.
Tough choice. We can buy time or shelf it. Buying time is expensive.
I’ve already seen a half dozen mobile payment applications get built or be proposed to be on the Access API, all of which get full team support and an entire company working to make them successful.
We shut down the functionality in our P2P applications
By the time we turned this off ~6% of volume was P2P. So as the platforms growth continued to almost double year over year, P2P stayed virtually flat on our own platform.
Where it didn’t stay flat is where other companies were building with the Access API. The experience they were providing was better than what we were providing.
Not a tough choice. We could invest to compete with customers, but why would we do that?
We ultimately decided to send people to another company to get a better experience.
Your work getting replaced normally means something better is replacing it. When you need to shut a product down it normally means focusing on what’s working and helping your company grow. Both are things to be excited about even if the initial idea may feel a little awkward.
7 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye To Old Products”
FiSync was a notable move forward in the fin tech field. Few companies have a competing product. I can’t help but wonder if the monitization approach was wrong. We have put thousands of transactions through FiSync and with no warning it disappeared. We were lobbying for our industry to standardize on Dwolla but that required FiSync to be viable.
We were an interesting case because I felt like we should be paying Dwolla for the features but $1,500 per month was too much for a single location to bear. If we could have had something in the $50 – $100 per location per month for the privilege of FiSync we would have paid it. We would even have paid a per transaction fee as long as it was small (0.10 per seems fair).
Without FiSync, I don’t know what differentiates Dwolla. The future doesn’t seem clear from where I’m sitting.
This definitely highlights one of the difficulties in changing / shutting products down. It affects those on the platform and also can be complex to communicate depending on the various use cases.
I personally haven’t had a non-FiSync connected account since it was originally introduced. In a weird way, I don’t remember what it’s like not to have it.
We’ll continue to be staunch advocates for real-time systems in the United States and vocal about the technical approach we think is best. What we found is that we, humbly speaking, simply couldn’t get the market to move ahead of a named regulator and that still hasn’t occurred. How everyone involved was going to make a meaningful amount of money on the use of the product wasn’t in question at the point at which we made the choice to take on this approach.
To use the Access API and the associated features paying that kind of money absolutely doesn’t make sense. The API suite is designed for those building software applications that access banking infrastructure. For that specific use case the savings in engineering/business development time it’s a no brainer. If that’s not your use case or the volumes aren’t substantial it’s just not a good fit.
I hope others are reading this as well. It’s well taken and if I had the technical capability to deliver that to you, I would be happy to. This is one of the oddities of ubiquitous realtime connectivity. We all want it, businesses and developers are willing to pay for it, yet it’s not happening due to the difficulties simply getting it installed and connected to all the big banks.
For some, especially those who used Dwolla specifically for FiSync, the company may not have products that are interesting anymore. I don’t love saying that but I do recognize it.
For those building software applications that want to connect to banking infrastructure with scaling volumes, we’re a great partner. Alternatively, for those who want to use our branded interface to move money they can still do so at a fraction of a cost of a credit card.
If you’d be willing to share more about your use case, I would be happy to help. At worst, recommend another provider. Thank you for your support and time to send the feedback.
I hear you.
Ben I love the Dwolla story. I love the foundation on which the company was started. Interchange fees are expensive. Moving money should not be so expensive and should not be done on a escalating scale. What does Visa or Master Card do differently for a $100 transaction that it does for a $1,000 transaction? Dwolla flat rate ACH is a great alternative. I am working on a new venture that could give Dwolla the exposure and use that could make you and I a lot of money.
I have looked at the competitors. Forte, Paypal, Paysimple, We Pay. The services and ACH prices are competitive but none has Ben Milne. Ben with your help we can both achieve our goals. Some say Dwolla is the next Paypal but in reality its Visa and Master Card whom are Dwolla’s equal.
To successfully compete with or replace existing payment networks like Visa, MasterCard, Amex, or even ACH, one really needs mass adoption, a.k.a. “scale” to reap the benefits of “Network Effects”.
Once my APP/Website is developed i would love to move funds via the Dwolla Network.I would be willing to offer Dwolla 10¢ per transaction and the monthly white label charge.
If executed correctly i believe at SCALE my company will be conducting 1 million transactions per week. With proper marketing SCALE should be achieved within 2 years.
I want Dwolla to succeed….
Gerald Love Jr.
We’d love to be helpful in bringing your idea to market. Could you e-mail me at email@example.com? I’d be happy to connect you to the right people at Dwolla.
I think we could be helpful while giving you the ability to retain that 10c per transaction as revenue for your company.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Ben, I just came across this site and as a founder of a start-up myself, I certainly understand the challenges a start-up faces, especially the “timing” part. Our company currently uses Dwolla for our current platform and happy with it’s ease of use and functionality. We’ve also been working on an consumer app to help facilitate p2p transfers, however, we’ve recently been told about a change in price on your white label product which is causing us some problems. We did speak with a couple of your representatives and though they were helpful, we are unable to meet your pricing requirements and been forced to look elsewhere. I would like to share with you what we’ve developed and our current situation in hopes of continuing to work with Dwolla. I didn’t want to send an unsolicited email and hope this message reaches you. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look forward to your reply. Best regards, Ken Green.
Shot you a note. Hopeful I can find a way to help! Look forward to your response.
Thank you Ben, I did receive your note and replied. Truly appreciate the quick response. Thanks, Ken.
Comments are closed.