LoopPay is back with yet another attempt to replace your wallet.
Earlier this year, we reviewed the company's first products: a key fob and the ChargeCase, and we were left mostly unimpressed. The design of the case and key fob were both bulky and ugly, and we found that it was often a burden to explain to cashiers how LoopPay worked. But as a proof of concept, LoopPay’s first efforts showed that its system can indeed work.
The company recently released a revised product called the CardCase, which is a smartphone case with the wireless payment technology embedded within a removable piece. The $50 case itself is shiny, slippery, and slimy, and it essentially doubles the thickness of your iPhone or Android device when attached. There's room in the back of it to store a few cards you would otherwise have in your wallet, like business cards or insurance cards. It got pretty tight with just a few in there, leaving barely any room for cash. The CardCase is similar to the ChargeCase in that they both add girth to your smartphone, but the former doesn't provide extra juice, and the latter doesn't have a physical slot for extra cards.
Setting up the LoopPay Card was fairly easy — you download the app, pair the device with your phone via Bluetooth, use the included card reader to scan your cards, and you can immediately begin depleting your bank account with just one tap.
The LoopPay Card can be triggered in two ways: by pressing the physical button on the back of the card or by tapping a stored credit card in the app. I found it easier to press the physical button because it doesn't require you to unlock your device, which is more convenient. You then hold the card (or your entire phone if you don’t take the card out) next to where you swipe a traditional credit card, and your information will be transferred over, thus completing your payment.
I made a handful of purchases with the LoopPay CardCase here in New York City, and like last time, cashiers were skeptical and confused. I had to explain what this device was and how it worked — ideal if you're a conversationalist, cumbersome if you're in a rush. I experienced a few hiccups as well, but it's safe to say that the errors can be pinned on the fact that the people who rang me up had never seen or even heard of LoopPay.
Mobile payments may actually become a thing of the present
However, LoopPay does work. And it works virtually everywhere. Because LoopPay is basically a reverse-engineered credit card, you can use it at any point-of-sale machine that scans traditional plastic cards via a swipe. This gives it a big competitive advantage over other mobile payment options like Apple Pay and Google Wallet which rely solely on NFC. Though LoopPay doesn't work in payment machines that require dipping a card into the slot — think ATMs and subways.
Just recently, it was reported on that Samsung may be in talks with Loop to embed this technology in future phones. If that pans out (it could as soon as next year), mobile payments may actually become a thing of the present.
In its current iteration, LoopPay's CardCase is far from ideal — the reason these mobile payment systems exist is to slim down and hopefully get rid of your wallet, not bulk up by adding a hump to the back of your smartphone. It could replace your wallet, but there's not much room for cash or other cards, and the added thickness is substantial. Granted, it’s only $50, which is less than Coin and other new credit card replacement systems. So if you just so happen to be shopping for a new wallet, you may want to consider this as an option. It almost feels like the future.