Why is that a big deal? Because for the first time, you can use your smartphone to better organize and use the cards in your wallet, and to better interact with the card issuers and merchants you do business with. Loop is all about making your life easier, keeping your cards more protected, and helping you look and feel like the trendsetter you are.
The Loop Fob is a small audio jack device with a built-in card reader to safely store your cards encrypted into a secure memory module. A microprocessor and a magnetic induction loop within the Fob allows you to transmit your card data to just about any merchant card reader. The Loop Fob is compatible with both iOS and Android devices (iOS app will be ready by December for download, the Android app will be available in the first quarter of 2014). The Loop Fob is capable of transmitting your card data while attached to your phone or can be easily used in detached mode in restaurant or bar settings.
(The Loop Fob will look the same as the pictures above. The production version will be made with more resilient plastic than the rapid prototype versions shown above. Rapid prototype plastics tend to be more brittle than production plastics.)
The Loop ChargeCase is a sleek, protective case that provides you with a secure wallet that you can use, but also delivers up to 60% more battery power for your iPhone 5 and 5s when you need it. The ChargeCase comes with an audio jack mag stripe reader to swipe in all of your mag stripe cards into the Loop device.
- Both the Loop Fob and the Loop ChargeCase come with a USB cable for charging.
- The LoopWallet app will be available for free download.
Our founders, Will and George, are a couple of entrepreneur geeks trying to make our own little dent in the universe. George pioneered the mag stripe credit card reader in the 80’s, took his company Hypercom public, and revolutionized the way we pay. Will created the first company to turn mobile phones into payment terminals with Way Systems and he built ROAM Data with the same spirit of ingenuity. Now, the two have teamed up to solve the biggest challenge facing mobile payments today: how to turn your phone into a wallet that works, for any consumer, “right now”. Loop is the first company that has solved this enormous challenge and now we need your backing to help us put this innovation in your hands so you can go from a big fat wallet or pocketbook, to the convenience of carrying only your phone (and some cash if you’re feel old fashioned!)
So why hasn’t anyone solved this problem yet? It’s because getting a phone to talk with the tens of millions of credit card readers has never been done before. Big companies have spent millions of dollars creating new mobile transmission technologies that require expensive changes to each credit card reader, costing every store hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Store owners have no incentive to change their systems to accept new technologies that few consumers are using, and consumers are not going to adopt a solution that they can’t use where they shop every day. So no merchant adoption equals no consumer adoption – it’s a deadlock.
Until…one day George and Will were discussing the problems with new mobile wallet technologies like Near Field Communication, and George had the idea of using the reliable and faithful “mag stripe reader”, the one that every credit card reader already has. The idea was to treat the mag stripe reader as a receiver to accept transmissions from a phone or accessory using a magnetic induction loop. At the time, no one in the industry thought this was possible. Through lots of trial and error in his lab, George was able to make the first contactless mag stripe transmission work in December of 2012 and dubbed it Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST). Will then recruited a team of really smart veterans from MIT and around the world and everyone got cracking. The Loop team made our first successful consumer transaction at Beacon Grill in Woburn, MA in March of this year.
Will was ecstatic, as he had been working on mobile payments for a decade, and this was a true breakthrough. The two immediately filed patents and got to work figuring out how to leverage this new technology to create a convenient and secure mobile wallet solution for consumers. Nearly a year later, after proof of concept, we’re close to bringing our first products to market.
As entrepreneurs always do, Will and George moved quickly to put the MST technology into action and integrated it with exiting products in order to test the concept. The first ChargeCase was created by building the MST technology in a Mophie JuicePack and our first Fob was built into an existing audio-jack Magnetic Stripe Reader. With these two models we were able to prove that the Loop works at over 90% of existing credit card readers. We are now ready to manufacture the production quality products.
The MST technology generates changing magnetic fields over a short period of time. This is accomplished by putting alternating current through an inductive loop, which can then be received by the magnetic read head of the credit card reader. This signal received emulates the same magnetic field change over time as when a magstripe card is swiped across the same read head. Loop works within 4 inches from the read head; the field dissipates rapidly beyond that point, and only exists during a transmission initiated by the user (as opposed to NFC).
You can swipe all YOUR mag stripe cards into the Loop Fob via the integrated card reader into a secure memory. We supply a separate audio jack reader to do the same with the Loop ChargeCase. Then use the LoopWallet app to select the card you want to use, place the Loop near the credit card reader, and hit the transmit button on the screen or device. The signal will be sent and the credit card machine will accept the transmission.
Loop gives you control of what you put in your mobile wallet. Just load your cards as described above (credit, debit, gift, membership, loyalty) into a secure memory in your Loop Fob or ChargeCase. Use your LoopWallet app to organize and manage your cards. You can even take photos of your IDs, Membership Cards, and even your receipts. The LoopWallet app also allows you to store your passwords in a centralized location. The Loop can only be unlocked with your PIN.
You have complete control over what cards to use, and when to use them, just like a regular wallet. You can also transmit a “default” card that you select by simply pressing the transmit button on the Loop Fob or ChargeCase. The Loop already works at more than 90% of retailers. Due to our extensive field-testing, even before we ship, we know that the Loop works all around the US and internationally as well.
We are currently beta testing our first 100 Loop Fobs that were produced using rapid prototype plastics (kind of like printing in 3D). Currently, the production tooling for the Loop Fob is in progress and will be ready in early November. We will do a small production run to proof our tooling design in mid-November. We will make adjustments to the tooling, if necessary, to finalize the design. Once proofed, we will be ready for full production and have the capability to produce 10,000 units a day. Since the Loop ChargeCase is derived from the integration of the Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) module with an existing case with backup battery power, we have also been able to quickly produce 100 Loop ChargeCases. These units are available today for beta testing that will begin in mid to late October. Based on inputs from our users, we will make necessary improvements by the end of December. We will then start full production in mid-January.
We need your backing to produce our first production runs and get this great new solution in your hands. In order to meet and exceed customer delivery expectations, our plan is to produce 10,000 Loop Fobs by December 2013 and 10,000 Loop ChargeCases by February 2014. Follow-on orders will be filled as soon as they come off the production line. Backers can rest assured Will and George have a long history of bringing quality products to market and this product will be no different. While at ROAM data, Will was producing and delivering 15,000 units a day of his magnetic card readers for mobile phones. The current production capacity of the Loop ChargeCase is 1,500 units per day. If there are any unexpected delays in the production and fulfillment process, we promise to keep our backers informed as we will work diligently to put amazing Loop products in your hands.
Damien Balsan is a graduate from MIT from the Sloan Fellows/Management of Technology program. He has been in the mobile and payment industry for over 20 years. Most recently he was leading PayPal’s POS Ecosystem development, closing deals with major POS vendors and working with large tier retailers to accept PayPal at the POS. Prior to PayPal, he led NOKIA NFC Business Development activities focusing on developers and succeeded in embedding NFC in millions of Smartphones. He leads business development efforts and new revenue strategy.
Greg Ewald has worked in both large and startup technology companies including Novell and NCR, ranging in disciplines, from POS systems and integration, to retail operations and PC network applications, to two-factor authentication for the financial industry, server side high availability and disaster recovery and payment services. Greg heads up Loop’s marketing efforts for distribution through a variety of channels.
Don Mileff brings over 25 years of solid technical and creative product achievement to Loop with a background covering payment and ATMs for some of the largest banks in the world. He also worked on accounting systems, call center solutions, travel and banking solutions, as well as computer management and operational systems. He has served as a chief architect for several startups such as the travel-based startup Atinera and has also worked for large enterprises like HP and AT&T.
Chris Nissen is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy with a MA in Management and Leadership. Prior to working at Loop, he was an Aircraft Maintenance Officer and an Acquisitions Officer working on an avionics system upgrade for the Airborne Warning and Control System. Prior to leaving the Air Force he was spearheading a $20 million dollar Joint US/NATO simulator program for the E-3.
Based upon our testing, at thousands of merchant locations, the Loop currently works at over 90% of these stores – restaurants, bars, clothing stores, malls – all of the places you typically shop. The Loop does not yet work at gas pumps and ATMs, because these devices require a physical card to make contact before reading. There are also a small single digit percentage of credit card readers in certain stores that require a software update in order to read the Loop signal. We will be working with these merchants in the months to come on the minor adjustments needed to accept your Loop transactions.