By: Dan Guenet,

Aided by an integration with Dwolla, Kidfund, a savings app, outpaced its transferred funds projection by 20%

A 2011 study from the Center for Development at Washington University indicates that kids with savings accounts in their name are 600 percent more likely to attend college. Kidfund is an application that enables and simplifies the contribution of funds directly to a child’s savings account by multiple parties and engages parents, friends & family in growing kids’ funds.


With limited developer support to build a socially-powered savings app, Kidfund needed to overcome user on-boarding concerns by creating a fluid experience when users are connecting a funding source and sending gifts to children’s savings accounts.


Kidfund—a socially-powered savings app—integrated with Dwolla to create a seamless user experience. This led to Kidfund exceeding their projected account balances by 20 percent due to 94 percent of their users taking advantage of Dwolla’s Instant Account Verification to add a funding source.

The Situation

Kidfund is an app that makes it easy for parents to set up and fund a bank account for their child’s college and other long-term savings. The platform aims to help parents increase the number and frequency of transfers to their child’s account to build a larger fund while enabling family and friends to give cash gifts directly to the child’s savings account.

A savings account is opened for the child to start accumulating savings. Then, parents, friends and other family members link their checking accounts to the Kidfund app. Within the application, the donors only need to transfer funds from their donor bank accounts to a Kidfund savings account. Likewise, the Kidfund savings account only needs the ability to receive funds from many donors, not to send funds.

In the Kidfund app, families can also extend financial empowerment across communities by donating a percentage of their child’s incoming funds to college savings accounts for kids living in low-income households through Kidfund’s non-profit partner, the 1:1 Fund.

The Challenges

The primary challenge Kidfund faced was providing a clean and easy experience when transferring funds. Kidfund recognized that a smooth payments integration enabling immediate donor activity would optimize the experience and increase retention rates.

According to Appboy, after opening an app for the first time, 75 percent of people fail to return the next day. However, consistent early engagement results in 90 percent retention after one month.

A donor on Kidfund’s application is asked to first connect a bank account and then proceeds to actually transfer funds from their donor’s bank account into a Kidfund savings account. Understandably, users can be tentative when providing banking information, so demonstrating security during the onboarding process is the key to overcoming this challenge.

Also, the actual transfer of funds into a Kidfund savings account needed to be simple for donors and accomplished in just a few clicks. So on top of a secure on-boarding process, Kidfund needed to provide an enjoyable transaction experience to encourage growth and adoption of the application.

These challenges were successfully tackled by Kidfund, with only two developers on staff.

Chris Johnson, a Senior Developer for Kidfund, said:

“ACH is not a simple process to understand. If you told me I had to deal with SFTPing fixed-width text files to a bank or the Federal Reserve, I would probably run. But Dwolla takes all of that complexity and wraps it up behind a well-documented API that does exactly what it says it does, so all we have to think about in transferring money is ‘who’ and ‘how much.'”

Chris Johnson, Sr. Developer

How Dwolla Helped

Enabling Seamless Onboarding

Any application that requires you to link a bank account must be thoughtfully designed around the user experience. If not, users will simply delete the app before they even get started. Optimizing the conversion from app download to linking a donor bank account can make all the difference in growth and adoption.

Solution: Kidfund utilized Dwolla’s Instant Account Verification (IAV) to link a donor bank account easily and securely. The process involved choosing a bank, verifying the account, and also verifying the user’s identification.

Outcome: Kidfund saw that 94 percent of accounts with funding sources connected had instantly verified using Instant Account Verification.

Simple Funds Transfers

Transferring funds from a donor account to a child’s savings account is a key functionality of Kidfund and being able to take a variable percentage of the transfer and donate it to kids in need is part of their mission. Building a solution that brought both of these pieces together was necessary for maintaining customers.

Solution: Kidfund leveraged Dwolla to ensure that the process of transferring funds was as simple as tapping a button in their app while providing the necessary functionality of both recurring transfers and taking a percentage of each transaction.

Outcome: With Dwolla, Kidfund integrated the efficient funds transfers that they had envisioned, and benefited from the access to additional items on their “payments wish list” like recurring payments and percentage-based contributions.

Integration Experience

An important aspect of Kidfund’s search was ensuring the solution that they found offered dedicated support and guidance through the integration process and beyond. This was integral because they didn’t have a large development team. Every moment spent integrating a payments API was a moment they weren’t working on the product itself.

Solution: Kidfund conducted their payments solution search with support in mind. Dwolla’s extensive developer documentation and technology-first mindset led them to choose Dwolla as their solution.

Outcome: With two developers and Dwolla’s dedicated support, Kidfund was up and running with Dwolla in five months, right within their projected timeline.

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Financial institutions play an important role in the Dwolla network.

Dwolla, Inc. is an agent of Veridian Credit Union and Compass Bank and all funds associated with your account in the Dwolla network are held in pooled accounts at Veridian Credit Union and Compass Bank. These funds are not eligible for individual insurance, including FDIC insurance and may not be eligible for share insurance by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. Dwolla, Inc. is the operator of a software platform that communicates user instructions for funds transfers to Veridian Credit Union and Compass Bank.