Why Ashton Kutcher Is Investing In DwollaBy: Chris Crum - April 24, 2012
A couple weeks ago, we wrote about Dwolla, an Iowa-based startup in the payments space. It drew more attention than the typical payments startup may, because it attracted the investment of celebrity Ashton Kutcher (though hardly his first investment in the tech sector).
Dwolla’s Caitlin Jones tells WebProNews, “Ashton is attracted to companies that solve real problems for real people. At Dwolla, we are solving a very large problem (interchange fees) that affects everyone who is touched by money. By building a network that allows merchants and customers to transact easily and affordably, Dwolla is relieving a lot of the pain points that have plagued the payments industry for decades.”
Founder Ben Milne and Kutcher reportedly speak about Dwolls regularly via Skype.
“Ben and Ashton met through mutual connections in the Midwest, and after a couple of meetings in Ashton’s hometown in Iowa, they realized they had the same vision of helping people and building out a payment network that would bypass the current one ridden with crippling interchange fees and poor security,” Jones tells us.
So just what sets Dwolla apart from other payment products on the market like PayPal?
“We have built our own payment network here at Dwolla, upon fiber optic cables over the antiquated rails of the ACH system (the system that all banks in the United States operate on),” explains Jones. “Because we have built our own network, we are able to build our own products on top it and we do not accept credit or debit cards in the system. With Dwolla, we have made it possible to use your own bank account to send funds to email addresses, phone numbers, Dwolla accounts, and social network profiles.”
Obviously, when you’re talking about payments and bank accounts, security is a primary concern of users, and Dwolla puts a particular emphasis on it.
“We ensure our users that none of the data that they input into our network will be sold or abused in any way,” Jones tells us. “All of our data is encrypted and protected by our security partners and by our own proprietary network that we have built. Unlike credit cards, none of your financial information is exposed with the transactions that you make.”
When asked about developer opportunities with Dwolla, Jones says, “As a developer at Dwolla, you are guaranteed to build some revolutionary technologies, work with some of the brightest minds in the space, and wear a lot of plaid.”
It sounds like they’re hiring (though that’s unconfirmed). Dwolla’s site does have a developers page, which includes documentation for its APIs, shopping cart plug-ins and an iOS SDK.