Dwolla founder Ben Milne
Dwolla founder Ben Milne
Paying a retailer or a friend could become as simple as clicking a button on your cell phone, using a new system developed by Des Moines-based Dwolla Corp.

The payment system, called Dwolla Spots, allows Dwolla subscribers to pay for products or services without having to wave or bump their smart phone at a point-of-sale terminal. Rather, they will simply click on a locator pin, or spot, from a map of retailers displayed on the phone, which automatically recognizes their location.

By combining information about its users’ and merchants’ locations, “we’ve really created the world’s first location-based payments platform,” Dwolla founder Ben Milne told the Business Record.  Dwolla Spots enables users to make peer-to-peer payments to friends on social networks as well.  Milne plans to formally announce the product’s rollout at a meetup at 5:30 p.m. today at Cabaret West Glen.

A year ago, Dwolla launched its core online payment system as a means for retailers to avoid “swipe” fees charged by credit and debit card processors. Dwolla instead charges retailers a flat fee of 25 cents per transaction. In addition to enabling further low-cost transactions,  Dwolla Spots will create a new entry point for financial institutions to offer location-based payments to their customers, Milne said.

Premier Credit Union, based in Des Moines, will be the first financial institution to partner with Dwolla Spots, Milne said, and Dwolla is in discussions with several more financial institutions. Though credit unions or banks won’t receive any transaction fees, they’ll benefit from gaining insight into their customers’ buying patterns, he said.

The bulk of Dwolla Spots initial transactions will occur locally, Milne said. Of approximately 700 participating Dwolla Spots merchants, most are located in Greater Des Moines, as are the majority of Dwolla subscribers.