I get policy types asking me this question a lot – how can we help local startups?
Well one way is to use their products to deliver better and more efficient services to citizens.
The State Of Iowa is demonstrating how it is done today with our portfolio company Dwolla, which happens to be located in Iowa.
Today, they are announcing that:
The State Of Iowa will accept payments with Dwolla
This will allow the state to collect ~$100 million a year in taxes
New partnerships are on the horizon with property taxes, vehicle registration and others
They will explore new opportunities for collecting and issuing government payments
Dwolla is hoping that this proof point will help them approach additional governments who are looking for better and cheaper options to take payments. And in reflection of that, Dwolla has launched a new landing page, dwolla.com/government.
So if you are looking to help startups get going in your region, one way is to become a customer of theirs and help them demonstrate the power of their technology to others. It's great to see the State of Iowa do that with Dwolla.
Yesterday was payments day at USV. Two pretty big things that our firm has been involved in for a while now were coincidentally announced on the same day.
First, our newest portfolio company Dwolla announced the closing of a round we led on their blog. Dwolla is building a large network of engaged users via a radically lower cost payment system. How much lower? Zero for transactions below $10 and a $0.25 flat fee for transactions over $10. If you move $10,000 over the Dwolla network, you or the recipient (your choice) will be charged $0.25. That's it.
Dwolla does this by avoiding credit cards. They see credit cards as the enemy. They want to build a system where the money moves directly from my bank to your bank as quickly and inexpensively as possible. They have big plans and we are bought into them.
Dwolla also offers "Instant" which is a way to instantly load your Dwolla account with funds via an immediate loan from a third party bank. The cost of the Instant service is $3/month and a $5 late fee if you don't pay down your instant loan to zero each month.
If you want to try Dwolla on the web, the iPhone, or the Android phone, go here, sign up, and start moving money less expensively.
Another major payments initiave was announced yesterday by our portfolio company Etsy. For a while now, Etsy has realized that checking out via PayPal was suboptimal for many buyers and also many sellers. But PayPal is deeply ingrained into the Etsy community and the company did not want to do a "rip and replace". So yesterday Etsy announced Direct Checkout. PayPal will remain a checkout option for sellers. But starting yesterday some sellers on Etsy will offer the option to checkout directly on Etsy. And Etsy will be gradually rolling Direct Checkout out to all of its sellers over time as they scale the service and the support system around it.
Both of these situations recognize something fundamental about payments. And that is that being in the payment flow allows you to do other more imporant things for your customers. In Etsy's case, that means things like gift cards, better shipping options, better marketing opportunities. In Dwolla's case that means making payments essentially free and making money on value added services like Instant and others to come.
Payments are one of those things that are fundamental to the online experience. And there are large networks that are being built with payments at the core of them. We are proud to be involved in companies like Etsy and Dwolla who are working at the intersection of networks and payments and we certainly would like to be meeting more companies like them.