Accepting credit cards costs merchants a total of $50 billion every year. In fact, payment processing fees are the single largest 'invisible tax' on businesses in the American economy.
This hurts consumers, too. That $50 billion comes out of your pocket in the form of higher prices anywhere you swipe your card.
Luckily, that fee is going away forever.
As of today, any merchant accepting LevelUp as a form of payment will join the Interchange Zero revolution and stop paying processing fees forever.
What is this "Interchange Zero" thing?
Interchange Zero is the revolutionary -- and now, real -- idea that it shouldn't cost merchants a single cent to accept a payment. No ifs, ands, or buts. Instead of making money just for moving money, payment providers should add value above the transaction in ways that help businesses thrive and grow, such as customer acquisition and customer loyalty campaigns.
Priebatsch first broached Interchange Zero as a burgeoning shift in the payments industry last fall at Fast Company's Innovation Uncensored conference. He's written on the topic in Inc. Magazine and this spring at SXSW Interactive, Priebatsch addressed the crowd about this inevitable payment revolution.
And now it's finally here.
OK, this is cool. But why is interchange a dying business?
Fifty years ago, interchange -- the movement of money -- had reason to be costly. For example, physical lines were laid to connect merchants to the network and large fraud risks had to be covered.
But this day in age, those lines are already laid and heavy-duty security innovations have lessened the real value of interchange. Yet, as these real costs went down, the interchange rate stuck around. What a swindle!
"The process of moving money is now becoming a commodity, a de facto service. We're entering an era in which merchants should get -- and will eventually only pay for -- value above and beyond the transaction," said Seth Priebatsch, Chief Ninja of LevelUp. "LevelUp is skipping this 'race to the bottom' happening between the major payments companies and leading the way by providing real value beyond the transaction."
Today: 0% payment fee. Fo. Forever.
Today, LevelUp is taking the bold step of dropping its interchange to zero. Entirely. Forever. From here on out, LevelUp will only make money by providing value beyond the transaction.
LevelUp provides that value with campaigns. The first two are built to solve big problems:
Customer Acquisition campaigns: On LevelUp, businesses easily create a compelling incentive to bring new customers in the door. LevelUp will promote it. By bringing in new customers, LevelUp is providing real value. The consumer saves. The merchant wins a new customer. No other payment processor does this!
Customer Loyalty campaigns: Businesses create awesome loyalty campaigns on LevelUp. In doing so, LevelUp motivates customers to come back more often to unlock the loyalty incentives. More visits per week is real value. The consumer is rewarded. The merchant is busier than ever!
OK this is pretty sweet. But how does LevelUp make money?
When merchants choose to run a campaign on LevelUp, LevelUp earns 35 cents for every dollar of credit redeemed through that campaign. That means LevelUp is only making money when real value -- which is determined by the merchant when they set up their campaign(s) -- is created.
That's it. So businesses, stop paying interchange! Like, now. Accepting your customers' money should be free. And with LevelUp it is. Zero percent means zero percent.
Now, take that money, and reinvest it in campaigns that actually grow your business. If they don't work, improve them. Or stop running them. All the data is yours, all in real-time.
And one last thing...
"Google gave away access to all the world's information for free. They could have charged per search, but they didn't. They chose to make money only when they added real value for an advertiser by driving a consumer to a website with a click," added Priebatsch. "We're doing the same thing with payments. We're going to enable the frictionless flow of money and only make money when we add real value for merchants -- in this case, by driving a new customer to a business with a transaction."
Britannica might not have liked Google giving away access to information for free. But consumers and businesses sure did. We don't think everyone will like Interchange Zero. But businesses and consumers sure will.