If 2018 was the year where we focused on strengthening the platform to be able to build and scale with our clients, 2019 was the year where we were inspired from our clients’ feedback and built out key features and functionality to truly help them scale. Let’s look back and remember the great things we built in 2019, as well as preview some things we have in store for 2020.
Core Product and API Enhancements
With every verified customer, a balance funding source is created, which is essentially a funding source separate from a bank that lives within the Dwolla Network and acts like a “wallet.” Previously with the Dwolla API, there was no way to divide that specific balance into different segments, leaving developers with the difficult task of splitting the balance into different “sub-balances.” With the Labels functionality, you can now designate a subset of a verified customer’s balance, allowing you to accurately ledger off and divide this funding source in countless ways. For instance, imagine you have a savings application where students can save for different goals by holding funds in the Dwolla balance. With the Labels feature, clients are able to empower end users to easily slice their balance amount in different ways to support different savings goals (e.g. car, vacation, etc).
Loan Account Support
Dwolla has built its reputation on effectively moving funds from one bank account to another for businesses across various industries. One of the recurring requests we heard from our Clients was the ability for end users to be able to send funds to loan accounts. Opening up bank transfers for these new account types allow for greater possibilities for businesses and their applications. By adding a loan account as a funding source, you can allow customers to pay down loans tied directly to particular accounts. This flexibility allows our clients to extend their product verticals to different markets and different audiences, all while staying on the Dwolla Platform.
Document Review Automation
Customer onboarding is an important aspect of any application’s user experience and being able to quickly move an end user into a state that allows them to transact helps keep them engaged with your application. For the personal verified customer type, document status was sometimes a bottleneck that kept end users from getting to a transaction-ready state due to some requiring a manual review. In Q3 2019, our team implemented a new system to automatically review photo IDs to keep the process moving.
Tracking stats on these improvements indicate that the time for an end user document review went from 21 hours to approximately 30 seconds. Dwolla knows that improving the end user experience allows for greater satisfaction from our clients, so we continue to drive our product updates with input from these stakeholders.
KBA in the API
While document review automation is a fantastic improvement, what if your end user never had to get to this status in the first place? If an end user is being onboarded as a personal Verified Customer type and is unable to be verified on the first attempt, they could be placed into a state that prohibits them from continuing their account creation. And while we have been making improvements to end user onboarding, such as the automated document review we mentioned above, we also understand that some end users simply don’t want to send their photo ID. With this in mind, Dwolla has implemented another option for identity verification, Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA), where a Verified Personal end user will be asked multiple questions only they should know the answers to. Once they answer at least three questions correctly, they will be pushed to a `verified` status. Clients that choose to use this feature can give their customers an improved user experience when going through the CIP verification flow.
Mass Payment Enhancements
Clients utilizing a payout funds flow understand the importance of being able to automate their payment procedures. With Dwolla’s mass payment feature, transferring funds to a large number of end users can be done with just one API call, and in 2019, we have made incremental improvements to allow for a wider range of use cases. These changes included allowing developers to specify a clearing object for a mass payment, giving our clients more flexibility to utilize additional payment features (e.g. Same Day ACH) that are part of their contracted services.
Another enhancement we made was adding detailed information from mass payment jobs within the dashboard for ease of consumption for our clients. By adding these resources, clients can now view both the mass payment job, as well as the individual mass payment items within each job, such as date, transaction id, status and total amount. With these enhancements, clients can continue to utilize a powerful feature to help automate procedures that have been historically manual.
Our community of developers continues to be important in our product feedback loop. Early in the year, we received reports of webhooks taking nearly 60 minutes to deliver during peak load time. For API clients that rely on timely delivery to update their applications, this was causing some strain on their user experience and even led some API clients to fall back to poll the API at these peak times. This bottleneck was due to the use of a single, shared queue across all API clients to send webhooks, meaning that a single slow-to-respond or high-volume API client would affect webhooks for everyone leveraging our API.
Knowing that webhooks are an integral part of the integration, we quickly prioritized work for improvement. After completely rearchitecting our webhook sending services we have been able to significantly improve performance and reduce barriers for timely responses to support the efficiency our clients are looking for in a payments integration. Our new and improved webhook sending service is currently live in both our sandbox and production environments and has since reduced webhook delivery times to clients from nearly 60 minutes at peak times to mere seconds. For a deep dive on how we accomplished this restructure, check out our developer forum post.
Other Notable Updates in 2019
Partner Ecosystem Integration Launches
Dwolla has always been committed to being able to effectively provide our clients with a platform that supports the scaling of their business and because of this, we were excited to launch our partner ecosystem. As a fintech company that provides ACH transfer services to innovative companies, the ecosystem is a way that we are able to connect clients with additional services that complement our offering. The partner ecosystem is inclusive of referral partners as well as those that are fully integrated with Dwolla’s platform, such as Slack and QuickBooks. These integrations help our API clients quickly implement functionality without the burden placed on their internal engineering team. The Slack integration sends event notifications directly to any Slack channel and the Quickbooks integration passes transfer data from Dwolla to a client’s QuickBooks account.
On May 21st and 22nd, Dwolla hosted its second Monetery event, an event focused on growing an inclusive technology ecosystem. At Dwolla, we believe that the best teams are built by the inclusion of diverse ideas, experiences and people. This allows us to put our words into action by connecting world-class leaders with members from various communities. One of our favorite parts of this past year? Hosting several of our clients and having the opportunity to connect them with Dwolla’s product, customer success and engineering teams for some awesome face-to-face time to collaborate on how we can best help grow their business. We are looking forward to Monetery 2020 and continuing to provide more actionable advice, create more connections and maintain support for underrepresented groups in technology.
Preferred Nacha Partner
As Dwolla continues to make strides as a leader in the payments industry, in Q3 Dwolla was excited to be named as a preferred partner of Nacha, the governing body of the ACH Network and the backbone for the electronic movement of money in the United States. Joining a select group of innovators contributing to the strategic efforts in support of the payments ecosystem is a huge honor and is very exciting for our clients as we share insights to strengthen the ACH Network.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of the things we built, it’s always good to reflect on some of the essential accomplishments that we’ve made within the last twelve months. Shifting focus to the future, we can start to explore initiatives that our teams are going to explore in the next twelve.
Efficiency & Expansion
We have made significant strides on our product this past year but per one of our core beliefs; we are never done. Dwolla is continuing to look at ways that we can best support businesses through an efficient and reliable payment solution. That means that Dwolla is looking to expand our platform offerings through additional partnerships, integrations, and new product releases throughout 2020 that will undoubtedly benefit our clients, but also continue to expand the adoption of Dwolla’s technology among even more industries. Additionally, time is money. Finding ways to create efficiency in our processes and with payments is top of mind, and we are looking forward to an exciting year in 2020.
If you or one of your colleagues has questions or wants to learn more about how Dwolla might be able to help your business—reach out! We’d love to help!
Another Trip Around the Sun
As 2019 comes to a close, we continue to be inspired by our clients building their game-changing applications and transforming their businesses. Continuing to build out a platform that can help scale these companies is something we truly believe in seeing through. As 2020 approaches, we plan to continue building compelling products, assisting our community of developers, as well as expanding our partnerships program. We can’t wait to see what the next decade has in store!