The delay wasn’t a long one for the Isis mobile wallet, which was originally expected to launch by the end of this summer. Isis has announced that the official pilot launch is scheduled for Oct. 22 in Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah — a date that matches information in a leaked internal document.
Backed by the top three U.S. mobile carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, the Isis mobile wallet can store debit and credit card information, sync with loyalty programs and manage personalized deals and discounts. Consumers can also use Isis to make mobile payments through NFC technology, which enables users to pay for a purchase by tapping or waving their smartphones at a special payment terminal.
By the end of the year, Isis plans to have 20 smartphones that will be able to support the mobile wallet. The company is partnered with HTC, LG, Motorola Mobility, RIM, Samsung Mobile and Sony Ericsson to manufacture Isis-capable mobile devices.
Additionally, major card issuers including Chase, Capital One, American Express and Barclaycard have partnered with Isis. Initially, the cards from these issuers can be linked directly to Isis. Other consumers would have to fund a digital Isis prepaid account to make mobile payments.
Google Wallet, another NFC-based mobile wallet venture, started out in a similar manner. It only supported Citi MasterCards for the first year since launch. This summer, it incorporated a platform that allows any debit or credit card to be linked to Google Wallet.
Isis is working with local merchants in the two pilot cities to offer digital coupons and deals that can be delivered and redeemed through NFC or a special barcode. These deals will be personalized based on user’s spending habits.
Isis marks the second major NFC-based entrant in the race to revolutionize mobile payments. Critics of NFC-based mobile payments used by Isis and Google Wallet, say that the technology is too reliant on hardware — the consumer needs a supported device while merchants need upgraded systems to accept these payments. This is deemed the largest obstacle for consumer adoption.
We’ll see if Isis can change their opinions.