While Apple is reportedly working hard on its own mobile payment service, Boston-based startup Loop has just released its own mobile payments device -- one that works at most traditional U.S. retail outlets. The Loop Fob is a small device that allows users to store credit card information on the iPhone, and then wirelessly pay at any traditional magnetic stripe reader.
It uses "Magnetic Secure Transmission" to create a small magnetic field via an inductive loop. That magnetic field is detected by the read head of a traditional swipe credit card reader, fooling the device into thinking a normal credit card has been swiped. As a result, the device allows any credit card to be digitally stored in an iPhone and used as needed. It's a direct competitor to the Coin prototype electronic credit card that attracted attention last year, only it's been released to the world already. Loop recently took a $10 million funding round based on the success of its Loop Fob Kickstarter campaign.
The Loop Fob can be used while attached to the iPhone, or it can store a single card and be used separately at restaurants and bars. The company says payment data is encrypted and stored on the Loop Fob device, and no credit card info is ever stored on the iPhone.
Loop also has a dedicated $99 iPhone case in the works which will be released later this year. It will allow Loop owners to make touchless credit card payments without needing a separate hardware device. All the necessary technology will be built into the iPhone case. The fob will still be used to read credit cards for storage, however.
With its patented technology, payment card data is encrypted and stored in dedicated hardware secure memory, within the Loop Fob or any Loop enabled device. Partnering with payment card issuers, Loop’s technology can also generate dynamic card data every time a payment is made, making such data unusable for those trying to clone a card. Its contactless chip does not wear out and fits into virtually any form factor that consumers want to carry – from smartphones to fobs, to charge cases, to smart watches, the possibilities are limitless.
The LoopWallet app can be downloaded from the App Store, while the Loop Fob adapter can be purchased for $39. The $99 Loop iPhone case will be released later this year.