Mobile payment service LevelUp, a part of Boston-based startup SCVNGR, has collected $9 million more in financial padding, courtesy of T-Ventures, the venture capital arm of Deutsche Telekom. The funding is the second tranche of a two-part round that brings LevelUp’s total raise to $21 million.
LevelUp, considered to be a top mobile payment network second only to Starbucks, provides a QR code pay-by-phone application for consumers and a terminal system for merchants. The mobile apps are used by roughly 200,000 consumers, with LevelUp payments accepted at more than 3,000 locations in 20 U.S. markets.
In June, LevelUp announced that it had secured $12 million from Highland Capital, Google Ventures, Balderton Capital, Continental Investors, and Transmedia Capital in part one of the large raise. VentureBeat has heard from a person familiar with the matter that the full $21 million round now values the company at $172 million.
SCVNGR founder and CEO Seth Priebatsch told VentureBeat that the funds will be used for growing the company, hiring, and advertising. “We now have some budget to take a model that we know is working and really scale it,” he said.
More interesting, perhaps, is that LevelUp’s growth with be on the dime of the parent companies of its two largest competitors. Google Ventures is indirectly tied to Google’s NFC Wallet endeavor, while Deutsche Telekom is the parent company of T-Mobile, which has a major stake in Isis.
“The biggest guys are placing side bets,” 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.”
In July, LevelUp eliminated credit card processing fees for merchants. As a result, the service is now signing up twice as many merchants per month, Priebatsch said. The company added 625 new merchants in July, up from 300 in June, he said.