Wireless Joint Venture Isis To Launch NFC Mobile Payments
By Adam Dickter / Mobile Tech Today. Updated October 17, 2012.
UPDATE: September 3, 2014
-- The company behind Isis Wallet has officially changed its name to Softcard. CEO Michael Abbot explained in a blog post that the company is rebranding itself because “however coincidental, we have no desire to share a name" with the extremist group responsible for the vicious campaign of violence in Syria and Iraq. The company had announced in July that it was looking for a new name to avoid association with the violent Islamic militant group.
Our original story from October 2012 continues below.
Add Isis to the list of companies trying to get near-field communication for mobile payments off the ground. The New York City-based company -- a joint venture of carrier rivals AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless -- aims to further boost mobile commerce (and attachment to mobile devices) by allowing their customers to shop without a wallet while gaining access to personalized offers and deals.
"No digging for loose change or clipping coupons," the company teases.
20 Handsets Coming
As of Monday, Oct. 22, payments through Isis will be enabled in Salt Lake City and in Austin, Texas. A map listing equipped commercial establishments is posted on an Isis Web site, paywithisis.com. Stores will have a purple "Isis Ready" emblem displayed in the window.
"Isis will be launching in Austin and Salt Lake City on Oct. 22," the company's head of marketing, Jaymee Johnson, told us in an e-mail Wednesday. "By year end, as many as 20 Isis Ready handsets are expected to be in market. We look forward to sharing more details on Oct. 22."
Google currently offers mobile payments with its Google Wallet application, using MasterCard's PayPass and Visa's Paywave system, and Square -- created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey -- accepts payments through a phone attachment or by entering card numbers in an app. Square this week ended a trial run in New York City taxis that began in March, utilizing card readers attached to back-seat iPads.
But despite the fact that NFC technology has been available for years, phone-based mobile payments have still not substantially taken off.
"NFC has been having issues because there just isn't a huge move to NFC, there are cheaper technologies that work fine and most folks are OK with credit cards," said technology consultant Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group.
"Starbucks not moving to NFC was a big wake-up call that this may simply not go," Enderle told us. "So there is plenty of room for others to enter this space, [but] it just may end up not going anyplace. "
Fun with NFC
NFC seems to be spreading more quickly as a way of sharing data rather than making payments. It's a key feature of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S III, and was used as a way to jab Apple in a commercial showing two users sharing a playlist by touching phones. The iPhone 5 is not NFC equipped, which disappointed some users, but Apple is well known for taking its time adopting new technology, such as long-term evolution 4G data.
Bump also allows media sharing between phones.
Samsung is further promoting NFC with its TecTiles stickers for the Galaxy S III that allow users to exchange information or execute pre-programmed commands through the technology.
So far, Isis, named for the Egyptian goddess known for compassion toward the downtrodden, can be used for payments via American Express, Capital One or JP Morgan Chase credit cards. Users can also create a reusable Isis virtual credit card through the Isis Wallet.
More details about the availability of the app, handsets and additional bank partners will be released Monday.