Mobile payments aren't quite ready for prime time -- at least not in Boston. That's the conclusion of a Boston Globe writer who tested mobile-payment offerings from several local companies -- with limited success.
Writer Scott Kirsner did most of his tests using LoopPay CardCase, a $50 iPhone accessory that lets users load payment and gift cards onto a Bluetooth device with a slide-out "virtual credit card." His success rate, he calculated, was 53 percent.
"You hold the card near any magnetic stripe reader, press a button on the back, and hope," Kirsner wrote. "It purchased some gifts at a Michaels craft store in Cambridge and a tea at one Panera Bread, but it didn’t work at a different Panera, a taco shop, or a Peet's Coffee."
But Kirsner made a second pass through the stores with LoopPay COO Damien Balsan, whose LoopPay device worked at the taco shop where Kirsner's hadn't. However, at a New England frozen yogurt chain called FroyoWorld, it was another story. "Balsan tried three different LoopPay devices to purchase a cup of frozen yogurt," Kirsner wrote. "When none worked, and as the yogurt sat on a scale getting soft, Balsan asked the shop’s co-owner if he could step behind the counter and try a few times from the cashier's side of the register. Still no luck."
Kirsner added, "My impulse at that moment: to take out a five-spot -- not a shabby invention in its own right -- and buy the yogurt."