Credit card processing fees are such a common part of the consumer-merchant retail experience that we hardly give them any thought. So we tend to forget that it costs merchants money every time we pay with our credit cards, or that the extra cost is then passed along to us in the form of a higher price.
Starting today, LevelUp, a service from Cambridge-based SCVNGR that lets you make mobile payments via a QR code linked to your debit or credit card, is eliminating processing fees for its merchants, making it the first payments company to nix charges that cost merchants $50 billion each year. SCVNGR's Chief Ninja Seth Priebatsch refers to the concept as "Interchange Zero," and says it's the next step toward building an ecosystem in which payment companies' worth is measured only by how much value they can provide to their merchants beyond simply helping them make transactions.
"Right now, the competition is over who's the most entrenched or who's the cheapest," Priebatsch tells Fast Company. "But eventually, who gets to move money will be about who can create the best value to add to the business, which isn't a bad thing at all."