Loopt Acquired as Green Dot Prepares for Mobile Payment Battle

Today, Green Dot announced that it had acquired location-based recommendation app Loopt for $43.4 million. Loopt’s Mountain View, CA offices will become a Silicon Valley base of operations for Green Dot, and the entire Loopt team will stay on as Green Dot employees, Loopt CEO and co-founder Sam Altman told BetaKit in an interview. The purpose of the acquisition is clear: Loopt will add location as another core competency to Green Dot’s overal strength as a mobile payments provider.

Loopt, founded in 2005, has largely concentrated on location services attached to mobile devices, but recently the company’s focus has shifted to ecommerce, including features like highlighting nearby deal alerts, which Altman explains is what made the company a prime target for Green Dot. “Over the last year and half or so, we’ve steadily gotten closer and closer to commerce,” Altman said. “If you think about this scenario where you’re out and about in the real world, and you can see deals and offers and get rewarded for being a good customer on your phone. Now, you can close the loop on that transaction and complete that payment on your phone, and we can track that end to end.”

That has benefits for both consumer and merchant, Altman noted, and he said that Green Dot’s “incredible financial instructure,” which spans over 60,000 merchants and integrates into point-of-sale systems, should help Loopt’s technology be put to maximum use in terms of reaching as wide an audience as possible.

With this deal, Green Dot definitely boosts its ability to play in the mobile payments space, but it will still be going head-to-head with some strong competitors. Isis, a joint-venture from AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, is looking to use its billing relationship with cellular subscribers to become the dominant mobile wallet, and Google also has its own offering tied to the Android platform. Square is making waves with consistent expansion and new product offerings like Square Register, and PayPal is stepping up its game, too, and recently announced the inclusion of location-based deals in its platform, made possible through its own acquisition of WHERE.

Altman admitted that there’s definitely some steep competition for Green Dot in the space, but he thinks there’s room for multiple approaches. “We’ll be competing with a lot of people,” he said. “Different people bring different things to the table, though, and I think we’ll all be able to offer good solutions.” Ultimately, consumers will determine whether there’s room for multiple runners in this race, and who comes out on top.


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