Are you in the loop? If you have a smartphone and you have been looking for a commerce solution that's accepted at a majority of retail point-of-sale terminals, you may want to tap into the LoopWallet app.
Developed by Loop, the app lets U.S. consumers rely on mobile devices as their primary payment method instead of cards or cash. That means you don't necessarily need multiple apps to pay, such as a Starbucks app and a PayPal app (unless you just want the free coffee rewards the former offers for using its tech).
"Loop users are making history as they embark on an exciting new era of secure smartphone-enabled payments," said Will Graylin, CEO of Loop. "Loop gives users an intuitive way to simplify and organize their wallets. Just download the free LoopWallet app, order a Loop AppCessory, swipe your cards into your smartphone, and pay at almost everywhere in the world. It's a true breakthrough that brings more convenience to consumers and with a new level of security beyond chip cards."
Secure Mobile Payments
Want to try it out? The LoopWallet app is available in Apple's iTunes App Store, with an Android version planned for release in April. Loop is also offering the Loop Fob for sale on its Web site for $39. The company called it the first of many AppCessories that give users the ability to swipe and store their credit or debit, gift and reward cards into their smartphones with security safeguards.
Next question: What does Loop mean by secure? Loop said its payment app integrates the highest level of Payment Card Industry (PCI) security, and can store all cards, from payment and gift cards to loyalty and reward cards and beyond.
Here's how it works: With its patented technology, payment card is encrypted and stored in dedicated hardware secure memory, within the Loop Fob or any Loop-enabled device. Partnering with payment card issuers, Loop's technology can also generate dynamic card data every time a payment is made and make that data unusable for those trying to clone a card. Loop said its contactless chip does not wear out and fits into virtually any form factor that consumers want to carry, including smartphones, fobs, charge cases, and smart watches.
Will It Pay Dividends?
Loop was founded by two payment industry pioneers, Will Graylin and George Wallner, both with histories of delivering widely adopted payment innovations. Loop was oversubscribed in its initial fund-raising of $12 million. The company's investors believe it has the potential to ignite mobile payments at the physical point of sale.
But will it really pay dividends? We caught up with Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, to get his take on the innovation. He told us there have been a number of attempts over the years to get smartphones, and the iPhone in particular, to be compatible with existing point of sale terminals -- and it's been difficult.
"The Loop AppCessory would appear to be a very inexpensive add-on device that plugs into the headphone jack much like the Square credit card meter. But rather than enabling the iPhone users to accept credit cards it would allow their iPhones to essentially mimic credit cards by working with a mag stripe reader," Rubin said.
"Obviously, having a separate device is going to be something of a barrier. If you are reaching into your pocket to get your phone, it's not a big leap to get a credit card. However, it could potentially allow for less clutter by creating virtual credit cards in an app that the iPhone users could use. The bottom line is consumers aren't going to make too much extra effort. The whole premise of credit cards is greater convenience, so that's the challenge that any accessory would face."