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American Express and Isis are making their union more "official." Amex, which already announced its support for the Isis Mobile Commerce Platform last year, said today that Amex cardmembers, OPEN small business cardholders and Serve cardholders will be able to load their accounts into the Isis Mobile Wallet as an option for paying at the point of sale.
"The relationship with American Express underscores our commitment to ensuring a flexible and inclusive platform that offers consumers choice in mobile payments while delivering new opportunities for merchants to connect with consumers," said Michael Abbott, CEO of Isis, in the announcement.
Abbot called the announcement a testament to Amex's vision and commitment to make mobile commerce a real and positive experience for customers.
Until now, American Express hasn't had a very compelling mobile payment story, at least not when it comes to the point of sale. It hasn't offered anything like products from larger rivals MasterCard and Visa.
MasterCard just announced its new digital wallet service at CTIA Wireless 2012 and Visa has been pushing its V.me platform for some time. Both have competing NFC technologies they use to power contactless payments at the point of sale. The only product American Express has offered on the mobile front is its Serve platform, a PayPal-like product that facilitates e-commerce and person-to-person fund transfers online or through a mobile device.
Serve, launched last year, is geared toward younger users and provides them with a prepaid account that can be accessed for P2P transfers through the Serve app or at the POS using a companion plastic card.
With today's announcement, American Express can piggyback on the Isis network to provide an NFC mobile payment solution to its cardholders at the point of sale. (Interestingly, Serve cardholders will not be able to add their accounts to the Isis Mobile Wallet when the product launches, but will be able to do so at a later date.)
"Now our Cardmembers and merchants can benefit from the ease and convenience of a tap-and-go experience on a mobile phone and still enjoy the benefits, services and support of American Express," said Josh Silverman, president of U.S. consumer services at American Express.
Isis is a mobile payment joint venture between AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. When it was announced in November 2010, the JV was intended to create a rival service to the card networks. However, it announced last summer that all four of the major card brands — MasterCard, Visa, American Experss and Discover — had agreed to support Isis.
Isis is looking to launch its NFC-enabled mobile wallet and commerce platform later this year in Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas.
For more stories like this, visit the Carrriers/Card Schemes research center.