Carriers Can't Take the Credit
According to a report in the The Wall Street Journal, the joint venture has decided to try to partner with Visa and MasterCard instead of competing with them by maintaining their own direct billing relationship with their customers.
I was disappointed to hear Isis was giving up on billing, albeit not surprised given how little we've heard out of the JV since it launched six months ago. (See US Operators Partner Up for M-Banking and Isis Heads to Salt Lake City.)
What's disappointing is that direct carrier billing is one of the wireless operators' strongest -- if not only -- advantages in mobile commerce. By giving control to the credit cards, they are acknowledging that they can't compete on their own.
But they are probably right, as a name like Visa has more commerce clout than an AT&T. Pyramid Research believes that with credit card companies as partners, the route Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and most European operators are taking, the risks are lower and the business model is more reasonable. Of course, the potential gain is also less. (See Operators Vie for SIM-Based NFC Control, Here Come the NFC Phones and Sprint Stakes Its mCommerce Claim.)
With Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), BlackBerry and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) hot on their trails, this may have been Isis's only option -- but it's disappointing nonetheless.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile