LevelUp, the mobile payments company that relies on scannable QR codes to complete payments announced a surprising move Thursday: it will be adding NFC capabilities to its point-of-sale terminals. They explain their rationale in the always-colorful tone that accompanies all their press releases:
People have been asking us, “Hey, when will LevelUp support NFC?”
Our answer has always been a completely definitive, “Soon…. ish.” Because we really plan to support any way people want to pay with their phones, from QR codes to NFC to ultrasonic signals and maybe, eventually, Vulcan Mind Meld. (Our engineers are on it.)
But, now that we know 100% for sure that the new iPhone will absolutely, positively have NFC (probably), let’s just say we’re not waiting any longer. The proverbial fire has been lit for the industry and we’re announcing awesome, shiny new hardware that supports paying with NFC for any phone with NFC capabilities. The new hardware will, of course, still support QR code scanning as well. We’re agnostic to how you want to pay, so long as you pay with LevelUp.
Read the rest if you want to hear what LevelUp’s “Chief Ninja” came up with for his prepared remarks. Spoiler: he uses the intensifier “super,” and elsewhere in the release they call their product “epic.”
But their silly tone isn’t what’s actually interesting here. What they said about Apple is. LevelUp seems confident enough in Apple’s next iPhone having NFC technology based on what, exactly? It’s possible they have a way of knowing that they cannot disclose. We don’t typically get into the Apple speculation game — which reached unseen heights of absurdity this week with speculation over the shape of a shadow — but it is interesting that a relatively small company is willing to make such a big investment in expensive hardware based solely on hearsay.
Earlier this summer, LevelUp announced it had done away with interchange fees (sort of), so it’s not as if they’re just following Apple around — they understand the payments industry’s pain points and maybe they know where it’s going in the future. We have no idea.