Isis, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, has teamed up with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, in a move that help pushes the adoption of e-wallets in an increasingly-crowded field of titans.
The New York-based initiative said the four payment networks will support mobile payments from Isis-powered devices, which is expected to launch in Salt Lake City and Austin in the first half of 2012. Isis plans to release software that turns smartphones into that “e-wallets,” so consumers can purchase goods at special terminals with the swipe of their device.
“This is a major milestone,” said Michael Abbott, Isis CEO. “We’re bringing together incredibly fierce competitors for the common good of helping consumers make mobile payments.”
But while mobile payment services look inevitably to arrive, Isis’ success largely hangs on its ability to compete with Google, which plan to launch their own service this summer, Apple, reportedly developing a similar service tied to iTunes, and a host of specialised players like Amazon, PayPal Mobile and Square.
For the players, the stakes are high. All are hoping to replace credit cards with cell phones and check-out terminal, using technology known as near-field communication, or NFC. And for the victor, the spoils are lucrative. The worldwide market for mobile payments is expected to surge sevenfold to $1.13 trillion a year by 2014, according to Gartner.
It’s too early to determine whether Isis will be a major contender. The group has distribution with carriers, and access, from credit card companies and banks. But lacks it the hardware presence that Apple and Google possess. Regardless, the addition of Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover greatly improves its odds in an escalating battle among formidable contenders.