Dwolla now allows users to make payments in batches, a feature designed to elevate the service beyond person-to-person payments and turn it into a viable tool for business.
Whether it’s young startup Parking Panda paying customers for offering spaces during a big event or a group of friends in a fantasy football league awarding prizes, Dwolla’s new MassPay service is designed to make bulk paying easier.
“Online marketplaces were demanding it,” says Jordan Lampe, communications head at Dwolla. Bulk paying separate individuals “wasn’t cost-effective in terms of time and energy.”
Dwolla charges 25 cents for each transaction over $10, while transactions under $10 are free. The 25-cent fee applies to each transaction over $10 within a bulk batch — for example, a bulk payment of $25 to one person, $50 to another and $5 to a third would cost 50 cents total. To promote the launch of MassPay, Dwolla is reimbursing fees for users’ first five batches, up to $2,000 per payment, through the end of November.
Recipients must sign up for a Dwolla account to receive funds.
MassPay’s partners at launch include Major League Gaming, which organizes professional video-game competitions; Flashnotes, an online marketplace for college students’ notes; and Scripted, a site for contracting freelance writers for blogs, social media updates and press releases.
“Anything that makes payments easier and gets money to the consumer faster benefits the company” says Avery Lewis, head of product at Getaround, a peer-to-peer car-sharing company that uses MassPay.
Getaround’s business model is built around collaborative consumption, wherein a single piece of property, such as a car, is shared among several individuals willing to pay a rental fee.
“People work with collaborative consumption companies for many reasons, but money is definitely a big reason at the end of the day,” Avery says.
Getting money in consumers’ hands faster makes these fairly new collaborative consumption companies more appealing, credible and relevant to their customers.
Getaround plans to use the bulk pay product to send out the percentage of the borrower fee earned by the individuals who offer their cars for rental. Getaround plans on launching MassPay in a few weeks.
To set up a bulk payment, Dwolla users make a spreadsheet with the recipient’s Dwolla ID, phone number or email address and the amount to be paid to each individual.
PayPal offers a similar bulk-payment service, with a limit of 250 recipients per payment. PayPal charges 2% of the transaction amount, with a limit of $1 per transaction. Dwolla’s service allows payments to up to 2,000 people.
“Any company that makes a lot of payments to people knows it’s still a challenging thing to do,” Lewis says. Parking Panda uses MassPay with its larger business customers already. It plans on introducing the option to individuals soon.
Parking Panda allows consumers as well as businesses to rent their driveways and parking lots to others. The collaborative consumption company does thousands of transactions at 50 to 100 locations per month.
“We can pay all those customers at once, instead of cutting 50 checks to go to 50 different locations to 50 different people,” says Nick Miller, co-founder and CEO of the parking startup. “Plus we do a decent number of microtransactions.”