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Iowa companies impact how Americans digitally move money

Federal Reserve Money Transfers

Carrying cash is so old school.

Two years ago the Faster and Secure Payment Task Force was formed to identify faster and safer digital payment methods and on Friday it released its final report with recommendations and proposals for the United State’s systems, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal.

According to the story, many of the new approaches are designed to settle transfers in real-time, for instant transfers between consumers.

Two of the 16 proposals announced Friday by the Faster and Secure Payment Task Force were from Iowa-based financial technology companies Dwolla and Shazam, INC.

Jordan Lampe, Head of Strategic Projects at Dwolla—the Des Moines-based financial technology startup company— served on the steering committee with Bob Steen, CEO of Bridge Community Bank in Mount Vernon, Iowa along with a Luther College graduate and former employee from Wells Fargo in Des Moines.

Lampe said the task force was to identify and evaluate approaches to a faster payment system.

“It was one of those things where we kind of defied the odds, but we needed to do it,” Lampe told Clay & Milk Friday. “Because nobody was coming forward with a faster payment system.”

The task force includes more than 300 representatives from federal agencies, banks, consumer groups, technology firms and merchants, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Lampe said what was released Friday hopefully serves as a stepping stone to updating a system that traces its roots back to the 1970’s.

“I don’t think people realize how necessary this was, we would never get to faster payments without this initiative,” Lampe said. “A lot of the work that is being done to accelerate bringing new systems to market as soon as next year were based on a lot of the effectiveness criteria that everyone created. We created this rubric.”

Lampe said a handful of steering committee members will serve in an interim collaborative workgroup to set up a governmental framework to address gaps.

“Who is going to govern this new payment and regulate this? How are we going to make rules around it?” Lampe says. “There are all these unknown questions and that’s what this new group that was formed will continue to do.”

Iowa companies impact how Americans digitally move money | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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