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Sweetgreen only accepting mobile payments, cash during launch for payments app

February 13, 2013

Fast casual restaurant chain sweetgreen is promoting the introduction of its branded mobile payments application by only accepting mobile payments or cash – no credit cards – during the launch period.

The sweetgreen mobile payment and rewards app enables users to receive $10 back for every $100 they spend when they pay via the app at any of the chain’s 16 locations. For the launch, sweetgreen will limit acceptable payments types to the app and cash to eliminate the need to pay credit card processing fees.

 “We’re always looking for ways to make our customers experience at sweetgreen the best possible,” said Nathaniel Ru, co-founder of sweetgreen, Washington, DC.

“To us, the white-labeled sweetgreen mobile payment app powered by LevelUp offers a way for customers to quickly and easily pay for their food and be rewarded for loving sweetgreen,” he said. “Our new app also gives the option to ‘pay it forward’ and give back one percent of transactions to charity, which is something that is super important to our customers.

“Mobile payments offers us a ton of options to create a really unique experience for our customers, and we are excited to see how our partnership with LevelUp is going to evolve.”

Sweetgreen offers farm-to-table salads, wraps and frozen yogurt. All of its locations are currently located in the Washington and Philadelphia area but the chain has plans to enter the Boston and New York City markets.

Paying it forward
The sweetgreen app is the first to be built using the white label solution from mobile payments and loyalty app LevelUp. This means that the loyalty tracking, customer analytics, engagement tools security are powered by LevelUp’s payment infrastructure.

By using LevelUp’s payment infrastructure, sweetgreen is also able to take advantage of the zero percent interchange fee on any transaction made through the app offered by LevelUp.

Sweetgreen expects to save thousands of dollars annually on credit card fees as a result and plans to share the savings with customers in the form of rewards and charities via donations.

The sweetgreen app enables users to pay with their phone and easily track their progress towards their next reward. Users link their credit or debit cards to the app to fund payments.

The sweetgreen and LevelUp apps are available for free for the iPhone and Android phones.

Giving back
Users of the sweetgreen app are also able to unlock different levels with accompanying perks as they spend more at the chain.

The app also aligns with one of the chain’s missions to make it easy for customers to find fresh, local food while giving back to their local community. Once users unlock one of several levels – green, gold or black – sweetgreen will donate one percent of what they spend to local charities dedicated to promoting healthy eating in schools.

“The crux of LevelUp’s Interchange Zero strategy is to provide value beyond the transaction, not just charging money to move money,” said Seth Prietbatsch, chief ninja at LevelUp, Boston.

“We know our merchants are sick of paying crazy-high credit card processing fees, and the credit card diet is the beginning of an epic fight against interchange,” he said. “By joining LevelUp’s payments revolution, merchants who do a credit card diet save money while offering customers incentives to visit for the first time and come back again and again.

“All the while, they’re getting data on their customers’ spending habits that can be used to grow their business.”

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

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