Mobile payments are supposed to be “the next big thing.” But while companies such as Square have managed to make accepting credit cards a simple task for anybody with a smartphone and a bank account, storing your cards on your phone and actually using them from your phone is still a work in progress. One Loop wants to finish.
And if anybody can solve this particular problem, it’s George Wallner and Will Graylin. Wallner was the one who figured out that magnetic stripe readers could be incorporated into point of sale terminals in the 1980s; in other words, he’s the guy that made credit cards simple to use. Graylin, meanwhile, was one of the pioneers of paying from your phone. So these guys are pretty familiar with what makes mobile payments tick.
There are two pieces to their campaign. The first, the Loop Fob, is pretty standard; basically it’s a Square by another name, although it can detach and be used to make payments as well. The Loop ChargeCase is far more interesting.
Most mobile payment systems haven’t caught on because they need specific equipment, like an NFC chip, to work. The Loop ChargeCase does nothing of the sort; instead it uses magnetic induction to transmit data to a card reader. In other words, the ChargeCase will work with 90% of credit card readers on the planet. That’s a breakthrough, to say the least.
Pay By Phone?
That said, Loop doesn’t really address the concerns some have with mobile payments that have nothing to do with technological annoyances. The obligatory app for this case is obviously built to be safe, but it does raise the question of what happens if somebody snatches your phone; do you have to cancel all your cards? That said, this storing gift and loyalty cards means that it’ll be useful to everyone, in the long run, and if nothing else, it’s nice to see a problem like this finally licked.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.