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Villa Fresh, LevelUp ring in New Year with mobile offer

Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen and the mobile payments app LevelUp are giving New Year’s Eve revelers in New York a chance to earn $10 worth of free food by using their mobile phones to pay for their food purchases.

The LevelUp app lets users link a credit card to the app so they can pay for purchases with their phones at participating retail locations. Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen is the first national brand partner for LevelUp but there are over 1,000 local merchants signed on in San Francisco, New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

“The goals of the LevelUp promotion at Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen in New York City are to get people to try LevelUp at Villa for the first time, love the experience, and return back again and again,” said Michael Hagan, chief operating officer at LevelUp, Cambridge, MA.

“We expect nearly everyone to have a mobile phone on them on New Year’,” he said. “ In fact, we recommend that people download LevelUp in advance of getting to Times Square, just in case there’s some network slowdown because of the mass amounts of people all using mobile service at the same time.

“You don’t need a network connection to pay with LevelUp if you’ve already downloaded the app in advance. You simply have to show your unique QR code at the restaurant’s register.”

New Year’s feast
Mobile users can download the app and link a credit or debit card to the app to receive a unique QR code that identifies them within the LevelUp the system.

On New Year’s Eve, anyone who shows their unique LevelUp code on their phone screen at the cash register for the Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen in NYC’s Times Square will receive a $10 credit to spend on food.

LevelUp apps are available for iPhone and Android. There is also a LevelUp Web app that works on BlackBerry, Windows Phone and other operating systems.

The app was designed to give users a way to unlock special offers as they spend money at a retailer over a period of time.

LevelUp was launched in March as a pilot in Boston and Philadelphia and expanded recently to New York and San Francisco.

Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen is a chain of over 200 pizzerias and restaurants that serve old world pizza, homemade pasta, authentic Italian entrées, salads and specialty items. The flagship location in Times Square is located at 263 West 42 St.

LevelUp is one of a growing number of mobile payments apps designed to make it easier for consumers to shop and pay for their purchases at retail locations using their mobile phones. 

“While it’s true that there are several mobile payment options out there, LevelUp is the only one you can use on any phone with an Internet connection,” Mr. Hagan said. “Other services like Google Wallet are limited to phones that have near-field communications and certain types of credit cards, which is a very small segment of the market right now.

“By our estimates, fewer than 25K people even have the appropriate hardware and card pairing to even consider using Google Wallet,” he said.

“We think 2012 is going to be a huge year for consumer awareness of mobile payments, and LevelUp is positioned perfectly because of its ease of use for both the merchant and the consumer.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York