AT&T/Verizon/T-Mobile Joint Venture Moving Ahead on Mobile Payments

By Josh Long Comments
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Several large mobile-phone manufacturers will introduce devices that implement near field communications (NFC) and technology standards that will enable consumers to pay for things with a tap of their phones, according to Isis, a joint venture between AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless.

Handset makers implementing Isis’ NFC and technology standards include HTC, LG, Motorola Mobility, Research in Motion, Samsung Mobile and Sony Ericsson.

“Isis’ technology standards provide the direction and certainty needed for the development and deployment of NFC devices and the mobile commerce ecosystem," said Scott Mulloy, chief technology officer of Isis, in a statement Tuesday. “Working together with the device makers and our founding mobile carriers, Isis can provide the consumer choice and scale necessary for widespread adoption of mobile commerce."

The joint venture is scheduled to roll out service in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City in early to mid 2012, a spokesman for Isis told Billing and OSS World. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless plan to invest more than $100 million into the JV, Bloomberg reported last month.

“We believe Isis will transform the way consumers shop, pay and save," Isis spokesperson Tom Cook said.

All charges made through Isis will appear on a customer’s bank or credit card statement and no charges will appear on a mobile-phone bill.

“Customers can rest assured that their information will remain secure and with the institutions they’ve always trusted, namely payment networks, banks and merchants," Cook said.

Google Wallet

Isis will emerge as a competing service to Google Wallet, which Sprint and Google rolled out earlier this month on Nexus S 4G phones. The app lets customers use their smartphones as wallets, making purchases at hundreds of thousands of participating retailers by tapping their phones. A free Android application, Google Wallet stores virtual versions of a customers’ credit card and requires users to establish a Google Wallet PIN before making a purchase in order to prevent unauthorized access and payments.

Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless provider, said it is the first carrier to offer Google Wallet, which supports Citi Mastercard credit cards and the Google Prepaid Mastercard.

Mobile commerce is expected to grow dramatically over the next few years, In June, Juniper Research said it expected up to 20 countries to launch NFC services over the following 18 months, resulting in transactions approaching nearly $50 billion worldwide by 2014. The research firm also forecasts that one in five smartphones will include NFC capabilities by 2014.

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