Community Bank to Roll Out Standalone Mobile Pay App in '13

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Basic features such as checking account balances are to mobile banking apps what getting your teeth cleaned is to a dental appointment: Expected.

But those consumer expectations will change.

A community bank out of Boston, for one, is shaking up the mobile banking basics by readying a standalone mobile payments app that will let customers unlock exclusive deals. To do that, First Trade Union Bank (FTUB) is white-labeling technology from LevelUp, a mobile payment and loyalty vendor in Boston that has partnerships with more than 4,000 merchants. FTUB's mobile payments app for iPhones and Android devices will debut sometime in the first quarter of 2013.

The LevelUp system works like this: smartphone users can make payments at the point of sale by presenting quick-response (QR) codes in front of a special reader. LevelUp's reader also supports NFC-based payments. Merchants do not pay transaction fees.

Pictured below is a screen shot of the app, showing the QR code and the option that lets the user set a tip.

First Trade Union Bank mobile pay app

LevelUp introduced a white label app earlier this year.

Though the bank, which has more than $629 million in assets, will customize LevelUp's app, the ways in which it will do so are not yet official.

"It's designed to acquire [customers] and enhance the current client experience," Michael Butler, president and chief executive, tells BTN. "[Consumers] want to spend their money in smarter ways."

The bank and vendor are currently working out some of the app's development plans, which will include "enhanced features to find ways to save while using the app," says Chris Tremont, vice president of marketing and client services at FTUB. "There are a lot of good things to come from the user standpoint. … LevelUp isn't just a payments app; it's also a loyalty app."

The bank-branded mobile payments app will integrate with customers' debit accounts.

"The natural opportunity evolving over time is to allow for multi-fund sources," LevelUp's Chief Executive Seth Priebatsch tells BTN.

FTUB is the first bank to introduce a LevelUp-powered mobile payment product.

Though Priebatsch says he hopes to work with many banks, "We want to keep FTUB as the sole bank relationship for a bit of time."

For FTUB, the hope is to capture more business in an increasingly mobile world.

"The opportunity here is this changing behavior of retail clients expecting to do business on their phones," says Butler. "We are going to drive retail client acquisition and retention through technology that aligns with [that] consumer behavior."

LevelUp is part of SCVNGR, which is backed by companies like Google Ventures and Balderton Capital.

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