Isis announces its pilot programs are now up and running

Oct. 22, 2012 | by James Wester

Two years in the making, $250 million reportedly invested by partners, rumored for months, and now here it is: Isis' more-official-than-the-last-official-announcement announcement that pilot programs in Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas, are now live.

"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."

The details of the announcement match much of what has been rumored for awhile and confirmed last week: Isis, the joint venture between AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, has launched its Isis Mobile Wallet in the two pilot cities. Customers need only visit their branded AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon retail stores and have a special secure SIM chip installed into their NFC-enabled (and Isis-ready) handsets. After downloading the app, and loading a payment card from Amex, Chase or Capital One, payments are as simple as tapping on a contactless point-of-sale terminal.

While most of the details had already been revealed, today's Isis announcement did include some new information. For instance, instead of the three handsets that were expected, consumers will actually be able to choose from nine "Isis Ready" handsets. An additional 11 phones are expected by year's end.

Several of Isis' card brand partners weighed in on the announcement as well.

"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 for Visa Inc. "Isis' open approach directly aligns with Visa's strategy of enabling consumers to make mobile payments with whatever device they choose using the trusted accounts they already have."

Mung Ki Woo, MasterCard Worldwide's group executive for mobile said his company has been working with industry partners like Isis to turn mobile phones into secure payment devices and create better shopping experiences for both consumers and merchants.

"The use of NFC technology is a path to an improved consumer experience, and the launch of the Isis Mobile Wallet - combined with the growing number of NFC-enabled handsets - will help make mobile commerce a reality for millions of consumers," Woo said.

"Today's launch of the Isis Mobile Wallet is a significant achievement in terms of enabling consumer adoption of mobile payments," said Suzan Kereere, SVP and GM for American Express, Global Network Business.

Kereere said m-commerce holds the promise of dramatically enhancing consumers' shopping experience, and the first priority of Amex as a network is to provide choice and flexibility for all industry participants to work together to influence the speed and growth of mobile NFC payments in the U.S.

For more stories like this, visit the Carriers/Card Brands research center.

Topics: Carriers / Operators , Contactless / NFC , Mobile Apps , Trends / Statistics

James Wester / James Wester is a technology writer and blogger with over 15 years of experience in marketing and communications in the technology and payments sectors. Prior to joining as editor he worked as Director of Corporate Communications for Chase Paymentech and ran payment operations for AOL. James has a BA in English from Drury University in Springfield, MO and an MS in IT Management from the University of Virginia.
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