Dwolla’s strategy to take advantage of interchange-fee war | PaymentsSource

Amazon’s current danger to restriction Visa charge card in the U.K. over approval expenses is emblematic of a much bigger rift in the payments market over whether cards are still worth the cost in an age when a lot of digital payment options exist.

The dispute likewise comes as Visa and Mastercard strategy cost walkings for specific payment enters 2022.

The excellent news for banks and cooperative credit union is that even if cards fall out of favor, companies will still have a function to play in digital commerce by integrating real-time payments with account-to-account transfers, according to Dwolla President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Glaser, who has actually dealt with both the card network and fintech sides of the payments market. Less pricey account-to-account payments are broadening as mobile wallets and noncard alternatives such as buy now/pay later on make headway.

“Banks will continue to choose to be credit card issuers, but we think that account-to-account payments will give cards a run for their money because of the higher fees with card payments,” Glaser stated.

Glaser, a previous Mastercard executive who assisted lead brand-new payment innovation efforts such as the card brand name’s cloud-based point-of-sale approval innovation, signed up with Dwolla in March to facilitate its efforts to develop brand-new payment automation collaborations.

While Dwolla, which is based in Des Moines, has actually been signing offers, Amazon’s danger to stop Visa charge card in the U.K. has actually drawn fresh attention to charge card expenses and the capacity of emerging options such as real-time bank transfers. Research from FIS and Worldpay, for instance, reveals digital wallet and purchase now/pay later on apps are anticipated to pass charge card for e-commerce payments in North America over the next 4 years. (While digital wallets can utilize charge card for financing, they can likewise draw from a kept balance, pre-paid card or bank transfers.)

Other payment fintechs are pursuing account-to-account collaborations.

Cellpoint Digital, a London business that offers payment approval and processing for merchants, in late November revealed a collaboration with Vyne, an account-to-account payment provider based in London. The collaboration will enable Vyne to use real-time payments to CellPoint’s merchants to speed deals, lower expenses and get rid of the requirement to get in charge card account info throughout checkout. Vyne and CellPoint did not return an ask for remark.

“Existing payments and banking options are broken, and stacked versus the merchants and customers that utilize them. Payment approaches include a range of settlement formats and can take anything from days to weeks to finish with consumer conversions affected by manual card information entry,” Vyne CEO Karl MacGregor said in a press release.

Account-to-account payments transfer funds directly from the payer’s bank account to the payee’s bank account. With real-time payment rails are increasingly used to execute account-to-account payments, the option is becoming more practical — and less costly — than options such as cards.

“Demand for account-to-account payments is originating from big merchants, given that real-time account-to-account payments are more affordable, much faster, and less complicated to manage than charge card payments,” said Ron van Wezel, strategic advisor for retail banking and payments at Aite-Novarica.

Dwolla this week entered a partnership with Infinicept, a Denver-based company that develops merchant payment technology for onboarding and risk management. Infinicept operates a partner network that connects payment companies with processors.

The Dwolla-Infinicept partnership is designed to decrease overhead for firms wishing to support account-to-account payments. That follows a partnership Dwolla signed in November with payment data company Plaid to provide account-to-account technology. And in July, Dwolla partnered with MX, a Utah company that provides account verification for about 4,000 financial institutions, potentially making it easier for transactions to move quickly between bank accounts.

That accompanied other recent moves at Dwolla, such as connecting to The Clearing House’s RTP Network in April, enabling businesses to use Dwolla’s application programming interface to connect to financial institutions on the RTP Network. Dwolla in June simplified its API by reducing coding, a move designed to appeal to nontechnical users.

About 150 banks are part of the RTP Network, out of about 5,000 banks in the U.S. Analysts have bemoaned this as slow progress toward adoption real-time payments among banks.

“It’s essential that more banks link to RTP to construct universality in the network,” Glaser said. “There are a great deal of big banks in the network, however we wish to get that number near to 100% so there are no spaces.”

While merchants may increasingly favor real-time digital account-to-account payments, banks may lag.

The business case for real-time account-to-account payments at retail banks is unclear, as without competitive pressure to support the model, it simply costs them the interchange revenue they would get by sticking with cards, van Wezel said.

“But I believe the walls have actually broken and account-to-account payments are flooding the payment markets,” van Wezel said.

The costs of accepting credit card payments can vary by merchant. An analysis by Nacha notes that costs can include interchange fees, acquirer fees — which can make up 50% of the costs of card payments for small merchants — and assessments and dues to the card networks, which can make up 10 to 15% of the total cost of card payments for merchants.

“Card expense is among the huge line products for merchants,” Glaser said. “The larger merchants are seeking to cut those expenses through settlement, however there are other types of payments. There are debit cards, which are a bit more affordable, however there’s still interchange.”

Account-to-account payments have been possible for decades, but Dwolla is betting there will be more demand because of new disputes over interchange fee hikes, as well as a proliferation of payments that don’t require credit card accounts for processing, such as mobile wallets, open banking and real-time bank-funded transfers.

“Any individual with a savings account is most likely currently utilizing ACH for lease, or paying a costs,” Glaser said. “But that network is 50 to 60 years of ages. Using it for internet-based payments implies utilizing tradition user interfaces. There is a method to enhance account-to-account payments.”

With the growth of APIs and cloud-hosted technology, processing time can be cut to near-real-time, according to Glaser.

Real-time payments are more expensive than traditional wires, however. “We might see banks choose to focus on specific deals for real-time payments to handle that expense, such as payments to gig employees,” Glaser said.

Payment options that support real-time account-to-account payments and buy now/pay later financing will expand as an alternative to credit cards in coming years, though credit cards will probably not be totally supplanted, Glaser said.

“With BNPL customers are generally utilizing their bank account to pay the loan, which goes to the BNPL service provider’s checking account. The more detailed the payment gets to the account, the lower the charges are going to be and the easier the procedure is,” Glaser said.

Additionally, the card networks are implementing rules and designing technology to reduce fraud, which additionally drives up costs for merchants, said Tim Sloane, vice president of payments innovation at Mercator Advisory Group. “One most likely result of this three-way fight in between criminals, merchants and the payment networks is a boost in the merchant rate of adoption for account-to-account payments that make use of open banking APIs,” he stated.


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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