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Isis pilot on hold again

NFC is having a bad week.

Just off the announcement that Apple didn't include the technology in its new iPhone, Isis, the NFC mobile payment joint venture between AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA, has admitted that its long-awaited mobile payment product will be delayed — again. The company has indicated the launch won't happen in September, as expected, but may happen in October.

Several outlets, including GigaOM and CNET initially reported the delay. Ryan Hughes, Isis' chief marketing officer, told GigaOM's Ryan Kim Ryan the blame for the slow pace in rolling out Isis lies with the company's desire to make sure all the details are worked out.

"While everyone wants to get to market quickly, we've focused on getting it right from the beginning," Hughes told GigaOM. "It's a complex project and we want to make sure the connective tissue of loading a card and using it and all the events around it are wrapped up."

He made a similar statement to Roger Cheng of CNET: "Our focus has been on making sure when we launch we do it properly and do it right."

Not the first delay

Interestingly, Isis CEO Michael Abbot told Cheng the same thing — last November. In an interview last year, and more than a month after competitor Google Wallet went live, Abbot told Cheng, "We absolutely want to get out fast, but we won't put out anything until it's ready."

While Isis has never confirmed exactly when it would launch its mobile payment product, expectations were high that it would finally begin its pilot phase this September with Salt Lake City, Utah and Austin, Texas as test cities.

Announced two years ago, the joint venture between three of the four largest carriers in the U.S. was supposed to usher in a brand new world of mobile payments, leveraging the carriers' combined customer base of 200 million subscribers. The partner carriers have reportedly allocated $100 million to the venture.

Since the announcement of the venture, however, there have been plenty of announcements of partnerships with card brands, issuers, handset manufacturers and POS-makers, and even some promotional videos and appearances, but no release of a product, even for a pilot program.

For more stories like this, visit the carriers/card schemes research center.

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