Heartland, LevelUp partnering to take mobile payments mainstream

March 21, 2013

Mobile payments are going mainstream this year if Heartland Payment Systems and LevelUp have anything to say about it. Heartland, one of the nation's largest payments processors, and LevelUp, the largest mobile payments and loyalty network in the country, are partnering on a national rollout of a mobile payment solution, said Chris Mahl, LevelUp's chief revenue and strategy officer.

"The biggest challenge facing mobile payment companies right now is scale," Mahl said. "LevelUp has been able to reach 1 million users and 5,000 merchants relatively quickly, but we need even wider consumer and merchant adoption before LevelUp hits the mainstream."

That's where Heartland comes in. It's more than 800-person sales force, customer base of more than 250,000 merchant locations, and widespread vertical industry expertise will accelerate the adoption of LevelUp's mobile payment and loyalty platform to merchants across the country, Mahl said.

"Our partnership with Heartland Payment Systems will allow us to fire up our growth rate as we begin a phased rollout with Heartland's impactful sales force selling LevelUp and our white-label solutions to businesses and consumers across the country," he said.

Ian Drysdale, Heartland's president, network solutions group, said that the companies have a shared goal to "Proactively expand market share while creating additional value at the point of sale for both merchants and consumers. The partnership provides consumers with another method of payment acceptance while merchants have the opportunity to further increase their bottom lines by meeting the payment demands of today's tech-savvy consumers."

The strategic relationship involves more than simply the nationwide rollout of LevelUp services, as LevelUp sees the power in Heartland's vertically integrated solutions, Mahl said. To benefit the partnership, LevelUp will leverage Heartland's scalable, multisite authorization and settlement network, currently capable of 3,000 transactions per second. When a MasterCard, Visa, American Express or Discover card "backs" a LevelUp transaction, Heartland's average response time will be less than one second.

Heartland is excited about the relationship because LevelUp, engineered for speed, security and rewards, allows consumers to save when they try new places and unlock rewards for returning to their favorite merchants. Merchants grow their businesses by running performance-based campaigns, receiving powerful marketing analytics to measure campaign success in real-time, and paying zero interchange fees. In providing LevelUp's robust payments and loyalty solution to merchants and consumers across the country, Heartland is continuing to build upon its efforts to help merchants stay ahead of the quickly changing payments space, Drysdale said.

In addition to the LevelUp app for individual merchants, the companies will also co-promote white-labeled apps for businesses with multiple locations. LevelUp's white-label solution enables businesses to offer a fully branded mobile payment and loyalty solution with access to all LevelUp features on the back end, such as zero payment processing fees, world-class analytics, powerful campaigns, technical support and more, Mahl said.

To accelerate LevelUp acceptance nationally with Heartland's payment solutions, Heartland and LevelUp are absorbing 25 percent of the development cost of a white-labeled iPhone and Android app for merchants with 10 or more locations that switch their processing to Heartland, or extend their existing processing relationship with Heartland.

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