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August 30 2012

LevelUp Is First Mobile Payment App to Let You Give Back While Paying

Mobile payment app LevelUp helps its users save money through incentives, loyalty programs and special offers. Now, the app has introduced a way for users to share a bit of their savings with their favorite causes.

LevelUp launched Causes on Thursday, becoming the first mobile payment ecosystem to integrate charitable giving. The Causes feature is a simple way to give a portion of your LevelUp rewards to a non-profit of your choice.

"We think there's a really neat opportunity to redesign payments for the first time in 60 years," Seth Priebatsch, founder of LevelUp, told Mashable. "The ability to bake in supporting your favorite causes and philanthropic groups into transactions, giv…
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More About: Mobile, Social Good, causes, levelup, mobile payments

August 18 2012

5 Ways to Pay for Dinner With Your Phone

mobile payments
Mobile payment transactions are predicted to reach $1.3 trillion per year by 2017, and the restaurant industry appears ripe to scarf down a hefty chunk of that money flying around electronically.

But while news about the mobile payments space has intensified lately -- Square's deal with Starbucks, Discover's nod to Google Wallet and Dunkin' Donuts's new gifting/payment app -- pay-by-phone services have yet to hit mainstream status as many consumers are still confused about their options.

To help clear confusion, here are five ways you may start paying for your next dinner with your phone.

Order Meals With Digital Delivery and Takeout Services

Food delivery apps and websites su…
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More About: Food, Google, Pay With Square, Payment Services, Seamless, Squar, TheLevelUp, dwolla, eccomerce, google wallet, grubhub, levelup, mobile apps, mobile payments, paypal, venmo

January 08 2012

December 27 2011

Unlock Free Pizza in NYC This NYE With Payment App LevelUp

Mobile payment app LevelUp will launch with its first national brand partner, Villa Pizza, on New Years Eve. Members of the annual Time Square New Years Eve mob who use the app to pay at the restaurant can enjoy $10 worth of free pizza while they’re waiting for the ball to drop — regardless of which phone, bank or credit card they’re using.

To cash in on their free slices, users need to link any credit or debit card to their LevelUp accounts. When they get to the restaurant, the app generates a unique QR code at the register that can be scanned with a merchant app to pay. Up to $10 of pizza is on the house, and anything more than that will be charged to their connected accounts.

LevelUp, which was created by check-in game SCVNGR, makes mobile payments more practical by taking NFC hardware out of the equation. It can be used with an iPhone app, Android app or through a mobile website. Google Wallet, by contrast, can only be used by those who have a Citi Mastercard or Google prepaid card and an NFC-enabled phone.

A trickier problem than practicality, however, is getting people interested in using their phones to pay in the first place.

“I don’t think the payment experience is particularly broken,” SCVNGR founder Seth Priebatsch told Mashable. “You need to add something more.”

That’s where the $10 of free pizza comes in. Merchants can add rewards to LevelUp that are already waiting for customers the first time that they use the app. Customers earn free credit at that merchant every time they spend money there using the app. It functions like a loyalty card.

But is that enough to get people scanning their phones instead of their credit cards? T-Mobile is betting on it. They’ve partnered with the startup to provide merchants with scanning hardware that replaces the merchant app and makes it easier to accept LevelUp payments. Since launching in October, the startup has accumulated 100,000 users and teamed up with more than 1,000 merchants in San Francisco, New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

With more than 350 locations, Villa Pizza is their biggest partner merchant yet. If you had plans to be in Time Square on New Years Eve, would LevelUp’s $10 deal persuade you to check it out with your phone?

More About: levelup, mobile payments, scvngr

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October 12 2011

SCVNGR Unveils QR Code Payment System

SCVNGR is introducing a pay-by-QR-code mobile payments experience called LevelUp in San Francisco and New York Wednesday, after an eight week pilot period in Boston and Philadelphia.

With the launch, SCVNGR is fully committing to an entirely new direction for LevelUp. The startup previously released LevelUp as a hybrid daily deals and location-based experience.

LevelUp, on the second go-around, scraps the experience of old for one centered on offline transactions.

Consumers link a credit or debit card to LevelUp, receive their own personal QR codes for payments, and can then scan their codes to pay at participating merchants and opt-in to store loyalty programs.

Roughly 500 merchants in Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York have agreed to accept LevelUp payments and will be using a provided terminal, running Android software, for scanning codes. Merchants can use LevelUp to offer customers financial incentives in the form of credits; credits are automatically redeemed by the customer when he or she spends a designated amount of money. A loyalty offer, for instance, would reward a customer with a $5 credit for spending $50 via LevelUp.

In essence, SCVNGR is chucking the pure daily deals play for a romp in the mobile payments hay. The company’s approach clearly borrows from Starbucks’s successful mobile payments system. It will compete with mobile payments systems such as Google Wallet — oddly enough, Google Ventures is an investor in SCVNGR — and Square Card Case, a pay-with-your-name system. LevelUp also closely resembles Kuapay, another pay-by-QR-code mobile payments platform.

The new LevelUp, says SCVNGR founder and CEO Seth Priebatsch, has been performing beyond expectations in test markets. When a merchant offers an incentive to attract first time customers, the customer spends on average 5.7 times the incentive on that one visit, he says.

But hype aside, it’s hard to ignore that LevelUp version one only just launched in March and was swiftly killed off weeks later. It would seem that the young startup is grasping at straws. And with a founder so heavily focused on game mechanics, it’s not hard not to feel like we, the consumers and the media, are being played here.

Not so, says Priebatsch. “What were trying to do, as always, is build a game layer on top of the world,” he says. “We have one product that delivers that game layer in a social way, and one product that delivers that in a transactional way.”

And on the subject of competing with Google, Priebatsch adds, “Google knows that Google Wallet is a five year play at the earliest. … We are a right now play. We are an everybody play.”

SCVNGR, says Priebatsch, will aggressively introduce LevelUp in major metropolitan markets at the start of 2012 — unless it changes course again. LevelUp will cost merchants $55 per month after a free three month trial.

SCVNGR the location-based social application will continue business as usual. It has just under two million users, Priebatsch discloses.

LevelUp Code

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More About: levelup, mobile payments, QR Codes, scvngr

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May 09 2011

No Printer Required: First Paperless Daily Deal Service Launches

Gaming platform SCVNGR has teamed up with American Express and Levi’s to create the first paperless daily deal redemption system.

If you’ve ever purchased a Groupon or LivingSocial daily deal, you’ve probably gone through the awkward process of redeeming your coupon. You have to print out the daily deal, remember to bring the printout with you and give it to the cashier, who may or may not be trained on how to redeem it. Plus, pulling out a coupon isn’t necessarily something you want to do on a date.

SCVNGR and American Express believe that they have found the solution. Starting today, SCVNGR’s daily deal platform LevelUp now features an option to sync your LevelUp account to your AmEx card. Once synced, all you need to do to redeem the daily deals you purchase through LevelUp is swipe your card. There’s no need to bring a coupon with you.

You don’t even have to tell the cashier that you bought a daily deal coupon. AmEx automatically tracks and credits your deal. AmEx Vice President of Gobal Marketing Capabilities David Wolf says the LevelUp integration is powered by AmEx’s Smart Offer Engine, the same platform that powered Foursquare’s “spend $5, save $5″ pilot program at SXSW.

AmEx links to LevelUp’s APIs so that you don’t have to think about redeeming your daily deal. It’s automatically done for you when you swipe your card at the store.

The pilot program launches today in San Francisco with Levi’s. Users that purchase daily deals from Levi’s through LevelUp will automatically get their discounts when they use their AmEx card at the Levi’s store in Union Square.

LevelUp differs from Groupon, LivingSocial and other daily deal sites through its use of game mechanics to increase customer loyalty. Every time you purchase and use a daily deal on LevelUp, you have the option to buy another daily deal from the same brand. In the case of Levi’s, level one gets you $20 of merchandise for $10, level two gets you $30 of merchandise for $10 and level three gets you $50 of merchandise for $10.

What do you think of SCVNGR and AmEx’s approach to daily deals? Do paperless daily deals make you more likely to buy in?

Lead image courtesy of Flickr, flickrohit

More About: american express, amex, daily deals, geosocial, Gorupon, levelup, levis, Mobile 2.0, scvngr, TheLevelUp

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March 10 2011

SCVNGR Pilots New Hybrid Mobile App for Local Merchant Deals With Game Mechanics

Location-based mobile game startup SCVNGR is releasing Thursday a second mobile application for iPhone and Android called LevelUp. This release is meant to serve as a pilot in the Boston and Philadelphia areas and test a new approach to merchant deals that better drive customer loyalty.

LevelUp plays in the same sandbox as Groupon, LivingSocial and the myriad of other daily deals sites, but the product attempts to reengineer the formula with game mechanisms and location — two areas SCVNGR knows well — to benefit both the consumer and the merchant.

“LevelUp is a new type of location-based interaction. It combines the best parts of the check-in, the challenge, and the reward into one bite-sized unit,” says SCVNGR founder Seth Priebatsch.

Here’s how it works: LevelUp users can locate nearby deals — say $10 for $20 worth of food — through the iPhone or Android app. Upon purchasing and using the first deal at a partner merchant, the customer has effectively completed Level 1, and unlocked Level 2, an even better deal — like $10 for $30 worth of food. When the customer returns to same spot and buys the Level 2 deal, he’ll unlock the final Level 3 offer, which in this example would be $10 for $40 of food.

The idea behind LevelUp is that first-time diners will turn into regulars as they go through the leveling-up process. Priebatsch believes that with LevelUp the SCVNGR team could “crack the science of loyalty at scale.”

The location-meets-game-mechanics deals product is being released with a built-in business model similar to other daily deals sites. SCVNGR will take 25% commission on all the Level 2 and Level 3 deals purchased through LevelUp.

The startup will spend $1 million apiece in Boston and Philadephia over the next six weeks to promote the new offshoot application and deals offering. If the LevelUp experience resonates with mobile users, SCVNGR will consider merging the experience with its mobile social game experience.

Priebatsch insists that LevelUp in no way suggests that SCVNGR’s primary location-based mobile offering is flailing. “Before we merge a transactional experience into social experience,” he says, “we want to know that it’s rocking.”

More About: deals, levelup, location-based service, Mobile 2.0, scvngr

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