Mar 12, 2013 Dave King
It took Boston-based LevelUp more than 18 months to sign up 500,000 users for its mobile payments service. But just four months later, the company has doubled that figure to one million customers.
The firm, which launched in July 2011, is now planning how it will go to the next level. Rather than focus on numbers alone, company officials are working on software development that will allow merchants to integrate mobile payments more easily into their retail strategy.
For LevelUp, the transition will be one from a payment method to a payment platform. The move will allow retailers to offer a LevelUp branded app and developers to include the company in their payments, loyalty program and discount apps.
"We're trying to revolutionize the way people pay," said CEO Seth Priebatsch. "But to do that, we need everyone in the payments space to be able to innovate with us and help propel the moment forward."
Shoppers and at-home customers alike are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to comparison shop, get coupons, pay bills and buy merchandise with credit, debit and prepaid ACH cards.
LevelUp has been steadily working with merchants to integrate its services at point-of-sale locations, according to Mobile Payments Today. Partners in that effort include MICROS, POSitouch and Dineware, all major players in restaurant point-of-sale transactions. Together, the three firms comprise 30 percent of the mobile dining market.
For consumers, the partnership allows easy payments for eatery bills on smartphones and tablets. Merchants benefit because they pay no processing or interchange fees on the purchases.
Now, retailers and restaurateurs will be able to use LevelUp technology to put out apps under their own brand names. Sweetgreens, a Washington D.C.-based chain, did just that last month.
Mobile Payments Today also reported another milestone reached by LevelUp has been its selection as the only mobile payment method used at concession stands of the South by Southwest festival. The annual film, music and technology event in Austin, Texas, continues through March 12, 2013.
This year is the first time that the Austin show has used a single mobile payment method throughout the venue. SXSW is expected to draw 25,000 attendees, many of them early adoptees of mobile payments and other cutting-edge technologies.
LevelUp is part of gaming company SCVNGR, and was developed with financial backing from Google Ventures, Balderton Capital, Continental Advisors, Highland Capital, Transmedia Capital and T-Venture.