This weekend, I installed two new apps on my phone: LevelUp and Loop Wallet. These join Square Wallet, Square Cash, PayPal, Google Wallet, Venmo, and PopMoney. My payment apps folder is getting as crowded as the competition! That said, I am excited to try these two offerings over the coming weeks!
- LevelUp operates similar to Square and PayPal, in that merchants must be setup to accept your LevelUp payment. In LevelUp’s case, this means merchants use one of the company’s proprietary QR Code scanners, or mobile app, to read customers’ unique QR Codes. When a customer’s QR Code is scanned, their balance is settled with the merchant. Read more about LevelUp’s unique approach to settle payments!
- Loop leverages unique technology to emulate the magnetic strip found on credit cards. Instead of carrying and swiping your cards, you load them into the mobile app, take them out of your wallet, and then use the Loop dongle ($39) to share credit card data with the point-of-sale terminal when paying! Loop also sells an iPhone case ($99) that doubles as the dongle plus a phone charger! The new case ships Q2, 2014. I’m going with the dongle since it’s cheaper, knowing that I’m also missing out on benefits provided by the case.
Earlier this week, ReadWrite posted a related article on mobile payments companies. The article used four prominent companies to explain difficulties in the mobile payments space. Here is the most poignant excerpt:
If I can use my Square or LevelUp wallet at one merchant but not another, I am less likely to use it at all. Technological ubiquity across the entire landscape just does not exist for these would-be disruptors of how you pay, and the key holders—Visa, MasterCard, American Express, et al—are not too keen on opening the door too widely for companies that could cut into their bottom line.
This issue plagues every contender in the mobile payments space, but each, thankfully, continues to make headway in the race to replace our wallets.
- Loop aims to have smartphone makers integrate its technology into smartphones by 2015. Since it’s rumored to already work with 90% of merchants’ existing equipment, it should not run into the same obstacle as Google has with Wallet (lukewarm adoption partially due to equipment upgrade costs).
- LevelUp has a great idea that benefits customers and potentially merchants, if it can overcome it’s troubles achieving scale!
- Meanwhile, it’s rumored that Apple may enter the mobile payments arena with the release of iOS 8, and we know Google and others are competing just as fiercely for your loyalty.
If one of these contenders can find an angle that works for the masses, we may be very close to putting our credit cards away for good. That will be a good day!