Mobile payments are certainly the new frontier that many large companies are racing towards. The adoption of NFC (Near Field Communications) technology and a NFC-based payment network could usurp the traditional wallet. ISIS, a joint-venture NFC network between AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon initially had plans that would butt heads directly with Visa and MasterCard, but have today announced scaling back those ambitions.
First announced last November, ISIS was formed as a NFC-based payment network that would allow wireless customers with NFC-enabled devices to pay for purchases at retail shops using their mobile phones instead of using their cash or credit cards. Fees for these transactions would then be collected by the carriers and customers would maintain accounts directly with the carriers rather than the credit card companies.
Today’s announcement scales back those plans to a system that is more just a form of a “mobile wallet” that stores traditional credit card information rather than a completely new payment network. This decision not only shows the clout of traditional credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard but also the precarious setup of ISIS from the start. ISIS had partnered with Discover, fourth place holder in card services, along with lesser known credit card issuer Barclaycard. That partnership and a slow timeline for a 2012 trial launch along with pressures from competing NFC services may have caused the scaling back for faster implementation.
Competing NFC services include Sprint, which announced a rapid timeline of launching trials starting in late 2011. Google has been even more swift, having already rolled out trials of its NFC-based Places and coupon service.