Mobile commerce

Verizon Ready to Flash Isis Mobile Wallet

SAN JOSE, Calif. — MobileCON — Verizon Wireless is getting ready to launch its first Isis mobile wallet services later this year.

Verizon Wireless , along with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile US Inc. , created the Isis mobile payment venture back in November 2010. Several Verizon spokespeople in San Jose told Light Reading that the services will finally go nationwide "later this year" without giving an exact date.

To that end, Verizon was offering attendees at the show a Near Field Communications (NFC)-capable SIM card for Android phones. The mobile wallet application is available in the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Play store.

A spokesman for Isis says that the venture is working on "a sleeve" for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhones, which aren't NFC-enabled. Rival Samsung Corp. , meanwhile, has bet big on enabling its phones and tablets with NFC technology. (See Did Apple Just Kill NFC? and NFC to Come Standard in Sprint LTE Phones.)

NFC is a local area radio chip that can be hardwired into a phone or tablet or installed via a SIM card. It allows a user to make payments by tapping the phone onto a reader, much like a contactless credit card, and authenticates payment via a rolling PIN.

The Verizon news followed a keynote at MobileCON led by Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead, who asked: "Why haven't US consumers adopted the mobile wallet?"

The panel -- which included Isis CEO Michael Abbott; James White, the head of Jamba Juice; and Dan Schulman, group president of enterprise growth at American Express -- grappled with that question for the better part of an hour. Security, ease of use, and getting NFC equipment to retailers are all part of the issue, they concluded.

"We have to make plastic obsolete," Isis's Abbott told the crowd. The panel mostly concluded that this will take a very, very long time.

Abbott also stressed that users who wouldn't normally have access to "traditional financial services" and spend time and money waiting online at check cashing stores and cutting money orders to pay their bills would soon be able to do this via Isis mobile payment services service without needing a standard bank account. [Ed note: Of course, they will need access to a relatively expensive smartphone and data plan to get the Isis service.]

Jamba Juice was the flagship retailer at the keynote; the juice chain has decided to install NFC infrastructure at its stores. "We wanted to be at the tip of the spear as regards mobile payments," CEO James White explained at the keynote.

White also tried to allay some of the concern about mobile wallet security. He said that the pilot schemes had shown the retailer that Isis payments are "more secure than credit cards."

Isis's Abbott told the show that a nationwide rollout of the mobile wallet service is coming soon. Like Verizon, he didn't say exactly when either.

Interestingly, followers of my Twitter Feed had their own take on why the American consumer hasn't embraced the mobile wallet in the way they have smartphone cameras and wireless mapping services.

"Because major carriers like VZW blocked Google wallet from their devices until 2 months ago," wrote @EdWill86, a sentiment echoed by several others. It was clear that many felt that Google Wallet already is a viable mobile payments system in the US and were sour about Verizon blocking the service.

Related posts:

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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DanJones 10/22/2013 | 7:15:25 PM
The other carriers I wonder what AT&T and T-Mobile are doing next with Isis then? Anyone know?
DanJones 10/18/2013 | 12:17:50 PM
Re: A few thoughts Re: Plastic


Yeah, Abbott came of the gate with that statement. The rest of the panel walked it back later.
Phil_Britt 10/18/2013 | 10:26:09 AM
A few thoughts I follow payments for several financial services pubs. Isis is one of hundreds of mobile wallets out there. While it certainly has more resources than many and more ubiquity than somoe of the closed loop models, whether or not it will have a large impact remains to be seen. The card issuers went into online payments before such payments were ready for pirmetime.


Also the idea of making plastic obsolete is pretty far-fetched. "Experts" were saying the same thing about paper checks in the mid-1970s, and it was more than 20 years before the number of paper checks even went down. While the number continues to shrink, almost 40 years later, they haven't gone away.
DanJones 10/17/2013 | 4:01:40 PM
Re: Isis lovefest Well this is big telco trying to protect one of the major services that is still -- arguably -- up for grabs in the mobile space in the US. For all the talk of being in Silicon Valley to listen, the last thing they want is a successful tech interloper being able to upstage them with usage statistics and other real world data.
Sarah Thomas 10/17/2013 | 3:57:00 PM
Re: Isis lovefest They should've had Square on the panel. I would love to hear their perspective on Isis, following all the success Square has had. It's expanding into peer payments now too.

Agreed on the general sentiment too. @caaarlo, who lives in Austin, where Isis has been trialed for awhile now says, "Isis is here in Austin. Never seen it in a shop, never seen a user, never heard anyone speak of it." Maybe he's not a smoothie lover?
MordyK 10/17/2013 | 3:08:52 PM
Re: RIP NFV Could be interesting. I may get some more info on that tomorrow as well.
DanJones 10/17/2013 | 2:36:35 PM
Re: RIP NFV They mentioned beacon support but didn't go into v. deeply. I'll try and get some more details today, still some Isis people at the show.
MordyK 10/17/2013 | 2:24:09 PM
Re: RIP NFV Even if we were to accept the premise that NFC is the perfect way it should be, insiting on NFC only and practially doubling the size of the iPhone is simply foolish. Why couldnt they take advantage of BT/iBeacon and support it as a parralel for non NFC capable phones?

The fact is that in today's market the iPhone leads the early-adopter market, so if iPhone customers ditch it ISIS is simply a lame duck.
DanJones 10/17/2013 | 2:13:38 PM
Re: RIP NFC Yeah, they *say* they're trying to make it a little more agnostic. Note that about 40-50% of the presentation was still involved in talking about NFC though.
DanJones 10/17/2013 | 2:06:43 PM
Isis lovefest The keynote was in many senses a big commerical for Isis. They talked about challenges in generalities. They certainly didn't mention Square or Google Wallet. Punches pulled, I'd say, but hey this *is* a CTIA show.

As you can see from Twitter, general users are not so happy about Isis.
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