“Hard-working designers like Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, or Antoine Bugle Boy… These are the people who saw an overcrowded marketplace and said, “Me too!” –Homer Simpson
We are living in a golden age of payments. Never have there been so many ways for folks to shuffle around money and possibly find ways to make money by doing so! Eventually most of these companies will go broke, merge, get acquired, and so forth, but in the meantime there’s plenty to keep an eye on.
The latest hotness is Dwolla Credit:
Dwolla officials are announcing today that the company has partnered with Alliance Data Retail Services of Dallas and its banking subsidiary Comenity Capital Bank to unroll Dwolla Credit. The service will give Dwolla customers access to lines of credit backed by an as-yet unnamed bank, effectively creating a direct competitor to credit cards.
Dwolla officials say their service will allow merchants to avoid the same credit card fees Dwolla founder Ben Milne once faced when he owned an online speaker retailer.
“Dwolla Credit gives all members of the network instant buying power,” Milne said. “It bypasses plastic cards entirely so when you check out, you never have to put in a credit card number. This release makes real-time payments accessible regardless of where you bank.”
The feature will roll out with about 40 handpicked merchants who accept Dwolla. Spokesman Jordan Lampe said the plan is to work out any problems in the beta version before releasing it more generally during the first quarter of 2014.
As the article says, Dwolla will be rolling this product out next year, but if you want to get on their waitlist / notification list, here you go. Note that you’ll have to sign up for a Dwolla P2P payments account first if you don’t already have one.
Meanwhile, another startup called Clinkle has no actual product yet, but it does have $25 million in funding and 100,000 people waiting to use it for some reason. Oh, and its founder went to–get this–Stanford.
To get an idea of what Clinkle is up against, here’s an article from a couple of months ago about how hard it is to disrupt the payments ecosystem:
On the surface, payments look deceptively simple. You need a secure, transactional method—actual currency, credit cards, Near Field Communications, QR codes, etc.—and some way to transmit money from point A to point B, just like you would with any other form of data.
On the surface, all currency is is data. This is why startups like LevelUp and big companies like Google think they can disrupt the payments space. It’s simple technology and fundamentally a data problem. Geeks, by nature, are good at technology and data. So they apply their big brains to the problem and figure that in no time at all, they’ll make a difference.
And then they enter a world of shit.
The article goes on to mention LevelUp, a potential Clinkle competitor:
What LevelUp’s founder and team eventually realized is that good software, an interesting business model based on incentives and a burning desire to take over the world weren’t enough. To expand into new markets, LevelUp needed sales people to strike critical partnerships that would convince business owners to adopt its technology.
That sales force has probably been LevelUp’s single biggest cost sink. The startup is doing moderately well, but it’s still very small, and its prospects of taking over the world of payments appear rather slim.
One tried and true method for gaining market share: giving money to people! Matt sent this over to me last night:
If you’re interested in that $50, here’s the link.
ANOTHER WAY TO GET FREE MOVIES: In completely unrelated news, Travel With Grant made me aware of the existence of the Screening Exchange, where you can get invited to screen movies before they’re released and fill out surveys to explain how you thought the new Michael Bay pic was pretty good, but needed more explosions.
TIM DUNCAN URGES TEAMMATES TO BE PATIENT WITH FREQUENT FLYER MILES: “I also want to emphasize that if you’re not all using credit cards with miles bonuses, you’re missing out on an excellent opportunity,” said Duncan. The Onion is there!