Bloomberg reported the funding late Sunday, citing sources that say the total amount will come down to how successful Isis is at attracting banks and merchants.
The JV currently works with Visa, MasterCard and American Express, in addition to its founding partners, Barclays Bank and Discover. (See Isis Adds Four Credit Cards to Its Mobile Wallet.)
Why this matters
The operators' level of investment in NFC shows how much potential they see in contactless transactions, but it also suggests how stiff the competition is becoming. Isis is up against Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Wallet mobile payment service, which Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is supporting, and a number of well-funded, agile startups like Square Inc. (See Google Taps Sprint for Tap-to-Pay.)
Isis is later to market than its rivals too. It plans to launch its mobile payment, couponing and loyalty program in select markets in early to mid-2012, while Google has had mobile payments in trial markets since May. The entire market in the U.S., however, has been slow to get off the ground as business model and revenue-sharing issues are worked through. (See Who's Holding Up NFC?)
Samsung Corp. , Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), Motorola Mobility LLC and BlackBerry are among the handset makers planning phones with NFC built in. The wireless operators hope to leverage their distribution power to encourage vendors to adopt the tech in more phones, as well as embed the Isis software in them. (See Samsung & Nokia Push Midrange Smartphones, RIM Revamps the BlackBerry and Here Come the NFC Phones.)
Read up on NFC and mCommerce in the U.S. below.
- Carriers Can't Take the Credit
- Verizon Tries Mobile Payments Solo
- NFC to Push $50B Over-the-Air by 2014
- PayPal Sues Google for Mobile Wallet
- Operators Vie for SIM-Based NFC Control
- Sprint Stakes Its mCommerce Claim
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile