Why is Isis a big deal?

Oct. 19, 2012 | by Einar Rosenberg

On Monday, Isis will finally launch.

There are some who support Isis and some who don’t. In this case, I’m truly Switzerland. That being said, Isis is a big deal. And the reasons aren’t talked about enough. Therefore, I figure we should point out just some of the reasons.

Isis represents a nice list of "firsts," more specifically, firsts in the largest and most powerful payments and mobile market in the world. Some firsts:

  • First mobile payments offering to truly include Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover on a single internal wallet with no cloud dependency. (I ran into cloud issues paying at Office Depot recently)
  • First to include nearly two dozen unique handset models from multiple competing manufacturers (Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola, RIM, etc.)
  • First to include Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and iOS (via a cover for the phone)
  • First to include competing mobile network operators representing over 200 million potential subscribers
  • First to use 1 billion ad Impressions to generate mass consumer awareness
  • First mobile payments JV to have a few hundred million invested in it showing strong financial commitment
  • First to include four competing financial institutions including Chase, Capital One, Amex, and Barclays (I know for a fact, more on the way)
  • First to truly incorporate multiple bank cards on a Secure Element-based SIM
  • First to have access to over 1 million POS terminals on day one
  • First commercial grade U.S. wallet to offer payment, coupons, loyalty, transit and more. (Sorry, Google Wallet, you don’t have the "transit and more" part)
  • First full marketing/advertising push, using multiple media methods, to access a combined population of more than 1 million people
  • First to have access to more than 10 million "currently in use" mobile phones actually in consumers’ pockets.

This list is nowhere near exhaustive. (Some may argue some of the points or nitpick on specifics, but I have little doubt that everyone will agree to at least some of the list)

The fact is I’ve been involved with mobile payments for about a decade and a half. That’s the majority of my adult life. As of right now, this is the biggest thing in mobile payments, at least in the U.S. This also helps cement certain things such as which mobile payments technology is currently in the pole position to dominate.

I’m sure we will see some negative and positive media. Hey, its America; every one of its citizens has an opinion and is willing to voice it. So have at your opinions. But at least recognize that this launch on Monday represents a good number of firsts.

Mobile payment’s time has now arrived. With tens of millions of phones in the U.S. ready to be used in hundreds of thousands of stores. Considering the U.S. has an average phone replacement rate of 18 months, and with these firsts, I’ll put my neck out on this final, and probably somewhat conservative, guarantee:

Sometime next year, I guarantee that at least 1 million people will have NFC mobile wallets in their phones, which will work at a few hundred thousand retailers on multiple phone networks.

And like I said, that’s my conservative number. My private expectation is that the number will be a good bit more.

So good luck, Isis. Make sure to appreciate your upcoming leadership position. And expect, like all leaders, that your enemies will do everything to either take your spot or make you fail.

Don’t screw up your shot, kid.

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

Einar Rosenberg / Einar Rosenberg is a recognized expert in mobile payments who has written multiple papers and spoken internationally on the topics of NFC, RFID, location-based services and Bluetooth. Mr. Rosenberg is currently the CTO of Narian Technologies.
View Einar Rosenberg's profile on LinkedIn

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