LevelUp app makes payment a game with iPhone, Android


(CBS) - Here's a neat app that turns mobile payments into a game with a rewards system. LevelUp for iPhone or Android comes from the same developers that brought us mobile game SCVNGR.

Payment is set up by linking your credit card information with a quick response (QR) code - you know, those black and white square boxes you see everywhere. When you're ready to make a payment at a business, you can launch the app and have the merchant scan the QR code. And a receipt will be emailed to you.

So, what about security?

The card is linked to a QR code that links straight to the bank, so merchants will never see your credit card information. That QR code also has a screen lock and can be reset anytime you feel like your phone might have been compromised.

Sample QR code

When I spoke to LevelUp chief "ninja" Seth Priebatsch, he assured me that the security the app uses ensures that there's no credit or debit card information stored on the consumer's phone, transferred to the merchant or ever even stored on LevelUp's servers. They use a "triple-blind token security" system.

The neat part of the app is where the "gamification" kicks in. Depending on the venue, you start off with a reward that's usually a few dollars. The more you use LevelUp at that location, the more of a reward builds up. FYI, "gamification" is the use of game techniques to non-game applications in order to make it fun.

LevelUp is carving its own niche in the mobile payment space. Priebatsch points out that Google Wallet, while great, isn't available to everyone yet - you need a Sprint Nexus S 4G to sign up. And, Square is more of a solution for small businesses.

Currently, LevelUp is available in four cities: Boston, New York, Philidelphia and San Francisco. The app is free to download for merchants and users of iPhones or Android devices. LevelUp recently partnered with T-mobile to provide devices for businesses nationwide.

The company announced today, custom hardware that can be sent to any business nationwide who wants to use the app.

"LevelUp has been growing astronomically since we've launched in our first four cities. As a part of our nationwide roll out strategy, we've introduced new self-service hardware to make it that much easier for merchants anywhere to join LevelUp," said Priebatsch in a press release.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be compiling a list of businesses that I'd like to sign up for the app.