When we talk of location-based services these days, there's a heavy focus on so-called check-in apps like Foursquare and Gowalla - apps that allow users to register their physical presence at a venue in return for deals, discounts and virtual rewards like badges and points.

But location-based services actually encompass a much larger market than check-ins, as a new venture from location provider Location Labs and fraud detection service Finsphere is now showing. They can be used to fight identity theft, too.

Location-Based Services + Credit Card Transaction Tracking = PinPoint

Today, the two companies officially announced the launch of Finsphere's PinPoint identity validation product, which helps to fight identity theft and validate a user's identity with the use of Location Labs' Universal Location Service.

The concept behind the service is simple: PinPoint tracks the location of a credit card transaction and matches it to the location of the end user's cell phone. If the two are far apart, it raises an alert.

The end user will then be sent a text message or email to verify whether or not the transaction was legitimate. Think of it as sort of a "first responder" to the possibility of a stolen wallet, stolen credit card or any other financially-bound identity theft.

Forget Apps, Just Sign Up Online

Because Location Labs already has relationships with all major U.S. carriers and can locate over 250 million mobile phones, it's now possible for the service to locate just about any mobile phone in the country, whether smartphone or feature phone - and without the need of an app download.

Instead, interested users can sign up online for the service (pricing available here) and choose from one of three plans: a free service associating one cell phone with one credit card, an "Advanced" plan for unlimited cards and three phones or the "Complete" plan which is the Advanced plan plus daily credit file monitoring (coming soon).

Developers Need to Think Bigger Than Apps

This launch proves the untapped potential for location services to expand far beyond mapping, navigation and check-ins.

Location Labs is one of the busiest companies in this arena today, enabling everything from the geofenced text messaging service ShopAlerts to the Foursquare-augmenting Mayor Maker, which introduced the checkout to complement the check-in. With Location Labs' new cross-carrier Universal Location Service, developers can build location-based services that work on every mobile phone in the U.S., not just on those phones where someone has downloaded a new app.

So to developers with big ideas, we challenge you now: think even bigger. If you want to build an app, sure, go for it. But maybe you should build an app as a value-add to a service, not as the entire service itself. The potential is out there, you just have to access it.