LevelUp was originally launched in March 2011 as a daily deals site, but after just three months, the company shifted its focus exclusively to mobile payments. Over the past year, LevelUp has evolved significantly, expanding their value proposition from mobile payment acceptance and integrated loyalty campaigns to, as Chief Ninja, Seth Priebatsch, puts it, an advertising firm masquerading as a payments company. In July Priebatsch also formally announced the company’s vision around Interchange Zero, charging no processing fees for LevelUp transactions (the company previously charged a two percent flat rate). As Seth put it in the announcement, “There are two elements driving this transition to interchange zero: 1) Technology driving fees down and 2) Information driving revenue up.”
Next generation payment types are flooding the marketplace. Companies continue to find innovative and secure ways of introducing mobile wallet and payment solutions that rely on QR codes or contactless (NFC) technologies to facilitate a quicker, easier transaction for both the customer and the merchant. And we all understand the value of data and the opportunity presented to businesses of all shapes and sizes by using data to target new and existing customers with relevant messaging and personalized offers.
Merchants using LevelUp pay zero fees for credit card processing for LevelUp transactions and they re-invest those monies into LevelUp based customer acquisition and retention based marketing and advertising campaigns. In turn, the merchant pays LevelUp 35 percent of each dollar redeemed through its campaigns. If a merchant is running successful campaigns, the dollar to dollar cost comparison is more than it’s original model of two percent interchange fees, but this isn’t just about interchange and payment processing. Merchants investigating LevelUp must look at the holistic value proposition and factor in potential savings from existing advertising costs, through re-purposing those funds to activate LevelUp campaigns.
LevelUp is proving that mobile is about much more than payments, delivering merchants with an integrated mobile payment and advertising solution that is designed to ensure return on investment.
There is little doubt in the industry that the value proposition around payments is extending far beyond mobile, leading merchants and others players in the ecosystem to investigate technologies and seeking out next generation solutions.