LevelUp adds NFC to zero transaction fee merchant marketing platform

The Google Ventures-backed service has introduced a new POS terminal that supports NFC as well as mobile barcodes and is available free of charge and with no transaction fees to merchants that participate in its payments and marketing programme.

LevelUp's NFC-enabled POS terminal
LEVELUP: Custom terminal has QR code scanner at the top and NFC reader below

US mobile payments service LevelUp has introduced a new merchant point-of-sale terminal that supports both NFC and QR codes.

“The new hardware, as with the old hardware, will be available free of charge to merchants on LevelUp,” says the company. “And, over time, we’ll upgrade all merchants to the newest hardware.”

The move to NFC follows the company’s decision in July to remove individual transaction fees for merchants that use its mobile marketing and payments solution. With the new “interchange zero” concept, LevelUp says, “businesses pay 0% payment processing fees and re-invest those savings into growing their businesses by attracting new customers and bringing them back”.

“Fifty years ago, interchange — the movement of money — had reason to be costly,” LevelUp explained at the time. “For example, physical lines were laid to connect merchants to the network and large fraud risks had to be covered. But this day in age, those lines are already laid and heavy-duty security innovations have lessened the real value of interchange. Yet, as these real costs went down, the interchange rate stuck around. What a swindle!”

LevelUp is owned by US start-up Scvngr, which has raised US$21m in funding from Google Ventures, Balderton Capital, Continental Advisors, Highland Capital, Transmedia Capital and T-Venture, the venture arm of Deutsche Telekom.

“It’s always been super important to us to make LevelUp work for any and every consumer on the planet,” says Scvngr founder and CEO Seth Priebatsch. “Our goal is to have LevelUp be the universal way to pay with whatever phone you may have, at whatever place you may be, whatever carrier you’re on, whatever card you want to use and whatever technology you prefer. For us, that means being as open as possible to both consumer technologies and merchant point-of-sale systems to make the experience as simple as possible.”

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