LevelUp Deploys NFC in Advance of Reported iPhone 5 Launch

LevelUp-NFC-hardware-iPhone5-rfid-blogLevelUp is adding NFC support to its free mobile payments solution, debuting new hardware for merchants, and allowing them to make payments using any NFC-enabled phone, the Boston-based startup announced on Sept. 6th. This addition to its technology is a clear move to compete with its competitor ISIS, which already uses NFC technology in its carrier-backed mobile payments solution.

LevelUp CEO Seth Priebatsch said in an interview that NFC support is something they’ve been planning for a while, and even though it hasn’t been confirmed that the new iPhone 5 will support it (we’ll likely find out on September 12th), they felt now was the time to add it in. “I’m not convinced NFC will be mainstream in six months, but I do think it will 3-5 years,” Priebatsch said in an interview. “NFC is a good technology, and it’s going to be around for a while. But if it doesn’t pick up momentum, something else will, so our new hardware can be easily upgraded to support other forms of payment.”

Even if the new iPhone doesn’t include NFC, anyone with an NFC-enabled Android phone will still be able to use the new hardware to pay. Priebatsch said, if another technology like Bluetooth 4.0 becomes popular, merchants can open up the new terminal and replace the chip. He said that the ultimate goal is to integrate with whatever method consumers want to use to pay. “Our new NFC hardware is part of our approach to be able to integrate with whatever is out there and make LevelUp work for everyone.”

To take advantage of the new system, consumers will have to download the LevelUp app for Android or iPhone, link their credit or debit card to their account, and can get a QR code they can scan at any supported merchant, or pay via NFC by tapping their phone on the new counter-top hardware for merchants.

LevelUp recently cut its merchant fees, in order to compete against mobile payments leaders Square and PayPal. It is also working on building out their partnerships. Although it might not have big-name partnerships like Square’s recent Starbucks announcement, the company is willing to do whatever it takes to compete in the mobile payments arena. With 250,000 active users who are spending a total of $2 million a month, and one million transactions processed since launch, the company seems to be on the right track.