LevelUp, the Boston-based mobile payments service, has received $9 million in funding from T-Ventures, the venture capital arm of Deutsche Telekom. This follows an announcement in June that LevelUp had raised $12 million from a group of five investors, including Google Ventures. LevelUp intends to use this money to expand the company through hiring and advertising.
One interesting aspect of this investment is that two of LevelUp’s largest investors are now firms closely connected to two of its biggest competitors: Google Ventures with Google Wallet and Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, with Isis.
“The biggest guys are placing side bets,” LevelUp founder Seth Priebatsch said. “We’re really trying to build something that is different than the mobile payment players out there, and I think the larger players are starting to take a look at that.”
LevelUp is widely considered the second most successful mobile payments system Starbucks is first) with 200,000 users and 3,000 merchant locations in 20 separate U.S. markets. The mobile payments service provider recently eliminated transaction fees for merchants, focusing instead on generating revenue through the loyalty program it provides to merchants. For every dollar in loyalty rewards a merchant issues, LevelUp is paid 35 cents.
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