Remember NFC? It was the overhyped abbreviation du jour before NFV pushed it aside. Well, now NFC operators are claiming real progress in the US, as Tier 1 operator joint venture Isis says it has activated 600,000 new mobile wallets in the past 30 days.
Isis is the joint venture among AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon Wireless , T-Mobile US Inc. , and a number of credit card companies and financial institutions promoting Near Field Communication-based mobile payments. (See NFC Payments Forecast Scaled Down.)
It got off to a slow start, but it launched nationwide in November 2013. Now the company says it has activated an average of 20,000 new Isis Wallets per day in the past 30 days, twice the growth rate it had in the prior month. The Wallet is preloaded on 14 Android smartphones, but 68 mobile devices across the three Tier 1 operators also support it. On the iPhone, it requires the purchase of an additional Isis Ready case with an NFC antenna and a Secure Element micro SD card. (See Isis Opens Its Mobile Wallet Nationwide and Verizon Ready to Flash Isis Mobile Wallet.)
These are the only numbers Isis is revealing so far, although one partner, Jamba Juice, also offered up some stats. The smoothie chain has been offering free drinks for those who pay with Isis Wallet. It has seen a month-over-month growth in Wallet use of more than 50%, with more than 270,000 customers cashing in on their free smoothies in the first quarter. It expects to hit 1 million by the fall.
Isis says it will continue to broaden its ecosystem of partners, which today includes Wells Fargo and American Express, as well as continuing to craft offers to get customers comfortable with paying via their phones.
Why this matters
With few other details, it may be too soon to declare Isis a success, but the company is at least demonstrating traction for its mobile wallet in the US. [Ed. note: Or it shows the lengths people will go for a free smoothie?]
The operators, however, are still experimenting with mobile payments and what works (if anything). Most have other offers outside of Isis. For example, T-Mobile announced a mobile money service for the unbanked in the US earlier this year, and AT&T recently launched a Square Inc. competitor for small businesses.
- T-Mobile: The Uncarrier for the Unbanked?
- AT&T Offers a Square mCommerce Competitor
- Why Sprint Doesn't Put Money on Isis
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading