This post was written by Wai Au, Vice President of Customer Excellence at Dwolla.

Close your eyes.

Imagine a world without technology. What would you do? How would you survive?

Before the internet, you walked or drove to the local library every time you wanted to learn something. You had to take out a book and read it to find the answers you were looking for. (Assuming, of course, that no one else took it out before you.)

You could never settle a family debate by googling the topic on your Mac or iPhone. How primitive!

Before digital cameras and mobile phones, you blindly took pictures on a roll of film using an old-fashioned camera. You hoped, prayed and crossed your fingers that at least one picture out of the dozen that you took of your special occasion would turn out OK.

Before GPS, we clutched to the safety of giant paper maps.

We all can agree that technology has permanently changed our lives—sometimes silently in the background where we take it for granted. But at other times a life-changing event makes us fully appreciate the power of technology.

A New Life in Canada

My parents are communist survivors. They fled the Chinese government regime with nothing but the shirts on their backs to the safety and haven of Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997. That was where I was born. Through the kindness of many, our family eventually immigrated to Canada, a member of the British Commonwealth. Do you see the British connection?

Growing up in rural parts of Canada in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, I was far removed from the dangers of the Chinese communist regime. Technology was almost non-existent. We had two television channels, no computer, internet or mobile phone. We had a rotary dial phone with no answering machine. If you were expecting a call, you sat by the phone until the person called.

Throughout these innocent teenage years, I always thought my family had four children. I have an older brother and sister. Then it was me followed by my younger sister. Yet, I was tormented because I heard rumors of a long-lost sister still residing in communist China. Decades flew by, but the thought of a sibling still alive somewhere in this world continued to haunt me.

Call it a mid-life crisis.

Call it a stream of good luck.

Call it divine intervention.

I was determined.

‘Hey, Little Brother’

I found and located my long-lost sister. She was living in the province of Canton in mainland China. What good fortune! But what was I going to do? My Chinese sister was almost 10,000 miles across the globe. I could plan a trip, but that would take months.

As a person working in the technology field, I called on the power of technology to assist. I discovered that my sister was gifted an Apple iPad. Through the power of an iPad and FaceTime, I met my long-lost sister.

I will never forget her first words to me: “Hey, little brother.” We spoke for over an hour catching up on lost time. My teenage daughter captured my conversation using her iPhone.

What’s next? A family reunion powered by Apple, of course. That year, we planned on doing a group Facetime during Christmastime as a family reunion. Unfortunately, that dream was never able to be fulfilled. My sister passed away two days before Christmas due to a heart attack. I was the only sibling who had the privilege and honor of meeting her through the power of technology.

The Power of Technology

As the Vice President of Customer Excellence at Dwolla, I have the privilege of working with clients and seeing how our account-to-account payment solution impacts their business and end users. Just as Apple’s iPad had a profound impact on my life, our technology powers innovations that can be life changing, whether it’s a real estate platform helping a young person purchase their first home, a financial technology app expanding access to credit or an investing site bringing new people to the stock market.

Each transaction has a human story behind it.

Our mission is to empower innovators through a modern payments platform that is flexible, reliable and easy to use. The iPad is just one example of the power of technology. At Dwolla, we’re working everyday to bring the power of payments technology to innovative companies and their customers across the country.

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