The Green Sheet Online Edition
August 12, 2013 • Issue 13:08:01
Isis set to launch nationwide
After a nine-month pilot program in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City, near field communication (NFC) -based mobile payment venture Isis reported it is ready to go national. On July 30, 2013, the joint venture created by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US Inc. and Verizon Wireless said the nationwide rollout would take place later in 2013 following the successful pilot.
Isis provided statistics from the pilot, which launched in October 2012, that suggest both merchants and consumers are ready for mobile contactless NFC payments. Isis said the number of merchant locations that accepted NFC payments nearly quadrupled over the span of the pilot, with more than 4,000 locations in the two cities now accepting the payment option.
Additionally, Isis said the average Isis Mobile Wallet user made over 10 mobile contactless payments monthly, and that two-thirds of users opted to receive offers and messages from favored brands, which provides evidence that the loyalty program feature of mobile contactless payments will be an important growth driver.
According to Isis, over 80 percent of its NFC transactions take place at merchant locations frequented by consumers every day, such as quick-service restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, and convenience and grocery stores.
Parts in place
At the time the pilot was launched, nine mobile device models were available to initiate mobile payments using the Isis wallet. That number of Isis-enabled handheld device models now stands at 35, with that number expected to continue to grow, according to the venture.
Isis has secured partnerships with a number of national retailers, including Aéropostale Inc., The Coca-Cola Co., Foot Locker Inc., Jamba Juice and Macy's Inc. In January 2013, Coca-Cola said it began testing the Isis wallet at 200 vending machines in Austin and planned to roll out tens of thousands more NFC-enabled vending machines nationwide later in the year.
Isis said nearly 20 million NFC-equipped smartphones are in the U.S. market, "with millions more being shipped each month" by the three telecoms participating in the venture.
Device manufacturers are also on board: Kevin Packingham, Chief Product Officer at Samsung Telecommunications America, stated, "NFC technology is important to Samsung and is a standard feature in our flagship smartphones."
Isis noted that 25 of the top 100 national retailers have deployed, or are in the process of deploying, contactless POS terminals. The venture cited Aite Group LLC research that projects 1.3 million retail locations in the United States will have contactless-ready payment terminals by the end of 2013.
"Over the past nine months, we have proven the power of an open platform, creating an ecosystem of literally hundreds of partners dedicated to making mobile commerce a reality," said Isis Chief Executive Officer Michael Abbott.
Smart Card Alliance Director Randy Vanderhoof told The Green Sheet last October that he believed the joint venture showed more promise than other mobile wallet schemes because the three mobile telecommunication firms backing Isis have control over the U.S. mobile handset market, unlike mobile wallet rivals like Google Inc.
"This is significant because it is the biggest mobile NFC payments launch in U.S. history," Vanderhoof said. "It is likely going to set the standard for how mobile devices will use NFC. Isis will succeed where Google has not."
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