Mobile payments are hot, and start-up LevelUp let’s you pay by scanning a QR code from your smartphone that is linked to your existing credit or debit card. You know what that means… venture capital spent on customer acquisition! New users can get a free $5 credit by signing up through a referral link or with code JL8U06. The referrer also gets $5, but only if the user spends $5 on their own credit card. Nice detail: The app lets you use your camera to grab your credit card number instead of typing it in.
In addition to the referral bonus, you’ll also get a few bucks of free starter credit at each of thousands of participating merchants (mostly restaurants). For example, in San Francisco you can get $1 a Adam’s Grub Truck, $2 at Slider Shack and Quiznos, and $4 at Asa Sushi. In New York City you can get $2 for Big D’s Grub Truck. Neat feature to encourage trying out a new place. There are also loyalty promos, for example you may get $5 after spending $50 at a store over time. They seem to have many major metro areas covered, but there are holes.
Overall, another mobile payment app based on the idea that whipping out a credit card is just too much trouble. I do think there will be a big winner in this arena, but competitor Square is already moving towards the concept of leaving both your wallet and phone in your pocket entirely and essentially paying by saying your name once your phone is nearby. One interesting feature is that they offer zero merchant fees for businesses, which sounds great but I’m not quite sure how they pull that off. In the meantime, I like checking out new startups and will enjoy my free lunch.