Loop aims to take everything that is annoying about mobile payments, remove them from the equation, and present the first truly universal platform the both consumers and businesses can easily adopt. Today they have launched their iPhone app along with its first payment accessory, the Loop Fob.
To understand what makes Loop different than other solutions it is useful to understand why other mobile payment platforms haven’t exactly caught on like wildfire. Most have relied on NFC, a technology that has not been adopted by Apple and has been largely abandoned by once vocal supporters like Google. Businesses have been slow to outfit their point-of-sale systems with NFC compatibility.
While major US carriers have cosigned on ISIS, a standardized NFC-based payment system that is perhaps the formats last hope, Loop has been exploring ways to circumnavigate the technological hangup. Their answer is the Loop Fob, an iPhone peripheral available for the iPhone 4 and newer.
The Fob consists of two components: a wireless keychain that can be used to make payments and a card reader that attaches to a handset’s 3.5mm headset jack. The device is claimed to work out of the box with nearly any PoS system already in place. Customers can use the device where they already shop; businesses don’t need to purchase any special equipment.
How does it work? The Loop Wallet app securely stores information about these cards, entered via the card reader, including loyalty cards and gift cards. The fob portion of the device generates a magnetic field that can be received by the traditional swipe readers used every day with credit and debit cards. The reliance on established technology offers a greater degree of backwards compatibility.
The Loop Fob is available now (in a variety of colors) for $39. For now the system is US-only. A Loop-enabled case for the iPhone 5 and 5s with built-in charging capabilities will be available in April. It is available now for pre-order at a price of $99.