Isis, the mobile-commerce joint venture established by Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile, debuts today in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Isis Mobile Wallet lets customers wave their handset at the check-out terminal rather than produce a credit card to pay for an item. Expected by some to revolutionize the mobile-payments industry, Isis was slated to go live this past summer, but was delayed until now.
“The launch of the Isis Mobile Wallet in Austin and Salt Lake City represents a milestone for both Isis and the mobile commerce industry," said Ryan Hughes, chief marketing officer, Isis. “With as many as 20 Isis Ready handsets headed to market by year-end, we are experiencing an unprecedented level of support for NFC and consumer choice."
Customers in those cities currently have a handful of Isis-ready phones from which to choose. They include: Samsung Galaxy S II and III, Galaxy S Relay and HTC Amaze 4G from T-Mobile; Galaxy S III, HTC One X, LG Espace, Samsung Exhilirate and Rugby Pro from AT&T; and Motorola Droid Incredible from Verizon (with Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD also compatible, scheduled to launch later this week).
To get started, customers in Austin and Salt Lake need to visit their carrier's retail outlet to get a secure-element SIM card and to make sure their phone is Isis-ready. Then download the Isis Mobile Wallet app from Google Play and load an eligible American Express, Capital One or Chase (Visa or MasterCard) card into the phone. Paying with a device is then possible at hundreds of merchants in those cities that accept contactless payments.
“The launch of the Isis Mobile Wallet is an important step toward accelerating mobile payments in the United States and maximizing convenience for consumers," said Bill Gajda, head of mobile product, Visa Inc.
Google last year launched a similar service – Google Wallet – that has seen limited uptake so far. Despite the convenience, many industry experts think it will take a while for this mobile-commerce technology – known as near-field communication – to flourish. Many customers remain wary of potential wireless security threats. If Apple had included NFC in its iPhone 5, which debuted last month, the technology would've certainly gotten a boost; instead, the company offers Passbook, a mobile-wallet application that is thus far fairly limited in scope. It captures images of barcodes that iPhone owners can capture and use at some retail outlets, airports and more.
Isis is said to expand to more cities soon.