The only thing more annoying than the crowds of people at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is having to pay for everything you buy with $100 bills. Benjamins are the main currency in Vegas, and the ATMs spit them out whether or not you want them. Then again, dealing with cash in any form can be kind of annoying — so it’s no surprise Burlington-based LoopPay is attracting attention.
“There’s been a lot of interest,” says CEO Will Graylin. “We did our unveil a few days ago, and folks have been saying this is the thing to go see.”
Most mobile payment schemes — like ApplePay and Google Wallet — use an NFC radio chip in your phone to communicate with a compatible receiver, so they only work if a retailer has installed the proper equipment. But LoopPay has developed a mobile payment solution that works with existing magnetic stripe readers: Instead of swiping a credit card through and having it scan that black strip on the back, a LoopPay device transmits your data directly to the reader. It’s sort of like whispering your credit card number into the cashier’s ear, as opposed to handing him a piece of paper with the numbers written on it.
LoopPay currently achieves this though the use of a device containing a small magnetic coil, which snaps into a $49.95 iPhone case. When users wants to buy something, they just press a button on the LoopPay device or use an app on the phone to select a payment method, then hold the phone against the side of the store’s credit card reader.
“It’s a breakthrough technology,” says Graylin, “that allows us to work with tens of millions of merchants.” Services like ApplePay currently only work at 3 percent of US retail outlets, he says, but LoopPay will work in 90 percent of them.
At least, it will if you have that $50 LoopPay CardCase, and many potential users may not want to buy or use one. So that’s one of the main reasons why Graylin is out in Vegas this week — to convince the manufacturers of consumer electronics like phones and smart watches to embed LoopPay’s technology into future products.
“We’re out here meeting with a whole bunch of partners that are building us into their devices,” Graylin says. “ApplePay has attracted a lot of attention to mobile payments, but that’s an older technology. There are a lot of folks that never heard of LoopPay, and being out here gives us a chance to talk to them.”
LoopPay was founded in 2012 by Graylin, an MIT alumni, and has raised more than $13 million from investors including Visa and Beta Fund, a Boston-based firm focused on early-stage investment in companies around New England.