We are all about innovation. Dwolla was founded on the belief that the way things are doesn’t have to be the way things will be. We love working with customers that share the same belief. One of those customers, Jolly, is taking an innovative approach to social media and the gig economy. In this guest blog, Jolly’s CEO discusses how an integration with Dwolla helps Jolly provide efficient and reliable payments to its users.
by Shelby Stephens, CEO @ Jolly
At Jolly, our team is building a global social network for the gig economy. Our beta is live with tens of thousands of users, and it’s growing rapidly. As avid supporters of Humane Tech and the Time Well Spent movement, we’ve built a business model that doesn’t rely on ad revenue. This means we aren’t pressured into driving tons of user engagement that wouldn’t actually help the user live a good, meaningful life. This is a huge point of differentiation between Jolly and other social networks.
But, it means we need to make money some other way.
To do that, we’re building tools inside the network that businesses will pay for. The first of these products is the Jolly Freelancer Management System or JollyFMS. JollyFMS is for small and medium-sized businesses that hire a lot of freelancers on a regular basis, especially ones that hire freelancers who do field work. This freelancer management system helps them organize, coordinate and pay their 1099 contractors, all in one place.
Our payment processing system is built on Dwolla, but that wasn’t always the case. Our journey started with two other payment processors, before taking off with Dwolla. We’ve learned a lot about how the different payments providers work—and, with Dwolla, we’re (finally) happy with our processing solution.
Evolving our Payments Solution
About five years ago, I built my first payment processing software product to help businesses pay freelancers for their services. That product utilizes Braintree. Braintree worked okay for us, but we felt like it had limitations around both data management and attentive customer support.
So, when our team started building Jolly about two years ago, we decided to try Stripe. Specifically, we used Stripe Connect, which enabled us to facilitate both ACH and credit card payments from our business customers out to their freelancers. However, we found that the fees were extremely high, and our experience with Stripe customer support was not good: slow response times, bot-like interactions and incorrect or incomplete answers.
To compound the issue, we had a horrible experience with Stripe’s ID verification. We relied on Stripe’s user verification process, and a fraudster slipped through. In one of the most painful moments of my 15-year journey as an entrepreneur, we had to pay over $20,000 in fees to cover this mistake. It’s impossible to overstate how demoralizing this was for our team.
Continuing with Stripe would have meant passing high fees along to our business customers, which ran contrary to the reasons we started Jolly in the first place. Businesses want to pay their freelancers without incurring any big fees. And, of course, it would have meant continued frustration for our team due to insufficient customer support from Stripe.
After exploring the Dwolla API, which includes dedicated support, the solution was obvious. Dwolla enables us to facilitate business-to-freelancer payments in a simple, elegant and cost-effective manner. Here’s how.
A White-Label Solution For A Better User Experience
When a business signs up for JollyFMS, they go through an identity verification process (both on our side, and on Dwolla’s side) to build validation around the trustworthiness of our application and the types of businesses that are using our technology.
Then, they connect a company bank account from which they’ll send payments to their freelancers. Depending on which bank they use, they either instantly verify their bank account (roughly 2/3 of the time) or they use micro-deposits to verify their account.
From there, they follow a few simple steps to begin paying their freelancers through JollyFMS :
- Invite freelancers to join the business on JollyFMS
- Freelancers go through a simple onboarding flow which includes connecting a bank account
- Freelancers go through instant bank account verification or micro-deposit verification
After a freelancer’s bank account is verified, the business can immediately begin sending them payments through JollyFMS. JollyFMS provides a comprehensive 1099-MISC reporting service to business customers: collecting W9s digitally and securely from freelancers, and filing 1099-MISCs on behalf of the business.
The business admin can customize each freelancer’s profile (e.g., add specific skills and tags, and define payment rates for each freelancer). This tool is powerful for recordkeeping (knowing what services the freelancer can provide and their rates for each), but it’s even more powerful when used for job-based payments, detailed below.
In summary, JollyFMS helps businesses organize their freelancers in the cloud, coordinate freelancer work assignments, securely pay freelancers bank-to-bank, and completely offload 1099-MISC reporting. Next, we’ll take a look at some of the payment tools JollyFMS offers.
Powerful, Flexible, Secure: How to Pay Freelancers Online
Many small and medium-sized businesses don’t have the resources to engineer a custom solution to pay their freelancers, but they still need to pay freelancers quickly and easily online. So, Jolly delivers a suite of powerful online freelancer payment tools that don’t require any engineering at all.
Businesses that use JollyFMS can pay their freelancers in a range of different ways:
- Job-based Payments
- This tool enables the business to offer (or directly assign) work to a group of freelancers. After the job is completed and approved, the payment is automatically calculated and Dwolla triggers the bank-to-bank payment from business to freelancer.
- With options ranging from adding gratuity to expense reimbursement, JollyFMS can be customized to fit virtually any workflow. If you’re interested in exploring them, check out the Jolly Freelancer Management System website.
- Direct Payments
- Think of this like Venmo for business. Business admins can trigger a bank-to-bank payment to any of their freelancers with just a few taps. Since these direct payments appear in the same payment history as job-based payments, JollyFMS serves as the centralized source of truth for all freelancer payments. It’s a simple way to keep track of your company’s 1099 contractor spend.
- Bulk Payments
- Process many freelancer payments at once with a simple CSV upload. Depending on a business’s use case, this tool can be a huge time saver.
- Recurring Payments
- The JollyFMS recurring payment tool is perfect for businesses who hire freelancers to work ongoing or longer-term projects.
- Freelancer Invoicing
- In just a few taps, freelancers can invoice the business directly in JollyFMS. Managers can request changes or approve the invoice with a single tap, triggering the bank-to-bank payment to the user. Businesses love centralizing all their freelancer invoices and payments in one system.
Improving the Future of Freelancer Payments
Our team is relentlessly focused on maximizing human potential by making it easier for people to work with each other. When it comes to payments, this means continuing to deliver payment tools that save businesses time and make freelancers’ lives better.
For JollyFMS, Dwolla is a true partner–providing reliable access to the ACH Network and allowing us to create the ideal payment offering for our business customers and their freelancers. Combine all of that with Dwolla’s exceptionally responsive and knowledgeable customer support team, and it’s clear why we’re confident in their ability to help us continue to scale.
Jolly is a global social network for gig workers. Jolly for Business is a suite of tools to help businesses find, recruit, manage and pay freelancers. Jolly for Business includes the Jolly Freelancer Management System or JollyFMS, a powerful Freelancer Management System that helps businesses organize, coordinate and pay their freelancers, all in one place. To learn why our customers call JollyFMS “life changing,” check out the website or book a demo to learn more about managing and paying your freelancers online.