Wednesday 25 April 2012

What is Dwolla? How does it work?

The answer is simple: I have no idea.

Well, that's not entirely true. It know it's some kind of payment system. I know some bitcoin exchanges allow you to use Dwolla to buy or sell bitcoins. But that's about it. Today, I visited Dwolla's website,, hopping to learn more. Sadly, there wasn't a whole lot to learn.

On their front page they have a "How it works" button, so obviously I clicked that. The result:

How Dwolla works

Dwolla is a new payment network that works with your financial institution to offer a cheaper, safer, and overall better payment experience.

* Dwolla for Personal use
* Dwolla for Merchants and Non-profits
* Dwolla for Developers

Ok, so Dwolla is a new payment network. That, we already knew. Wanting to learn even more, I click the "Dwolla for Personal use" link and get:

Dwolla works with users and their banking relationships to offer a cheaper, safer, and overall better payment experience.

* Send money to friends through social networks
* Pay for stuff with your phone
* Shop easily, and safely online

Find out more about the experience

So we are already 3 clicks deep in the Dwolla site and we still haven't found anything useful. Next, I click on the "Find out more about the experience" link. This leads to, a page that is filled with buzz words and no useful information whatsoever. We learn that Dwolla is a next generation payment network, that Dwolla is somehow more secure than plastic which carries sensitive financial information inside the 16 digits on the card, that it somehow taps into the mystical power of mobile devices to bring you the new tools, services, and overall convenience that you've grown to expect from 21st century technologies and that the people behind Dwolla are dedicated to building smarter technologies (whatever that may mean).

So even after reading all that I still have no idea what Dwolla is or how it works. Is it an ewallet like Paypal, Paxum, RedPass or OKPay? When I visit those sites, I at least immediately understand what it is they are offering. How does it work? Do I open an account? How do I fund it? How does it differ from other ewallets? If it is even an ewallet of course.

When people can't clearly describe what it is they are selling or offering and prefer to use a lot of marketing buzz words instead, an alarm goes off: *Snake Oil

The Dwolla site reminded me of a scene from the movie Ideocracy. Brawndo's got what palnts crave. Dwolla taps into the power of mobile devices. *sigh*

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