Isis, the mobile payments venture formed by Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile USA, today announced its first set of retail partners who will accept contactless payments made with smartphones. Coca-Cola, Dillards and Macy’s are among the merchants who are ready to start letting customers make purchases using the Isis mobile wallet. For Coca-Cola, which owns roughly a million vending machines nationwide, the launch of the mobile wallet will mean that thirsty customers will not need cash to buy products from many of its vending machines this summer. Other nationwide retailers on board with Isis include Aeropostale, Champs, Foot Locker and Jamba Juice.
Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility will offer iPhone users the In2Pay iCaisse accessory (pictured) to enable mobile payments on their phones. The iCaisse, made by DeviceFidelity, enables near field communication (NFC) on the iPhone 3, 3G and 4. Upcoming Android phones made by Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola Mobility and Sony Ericsson will also be configured for Isis mobile payments. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is also an Isis partner. So far there have been no announcements of Windows phones that will be Isis-ready.
Isis hopes to gain traction for its platform by enticing hundreds of local retailers around the country to join as partners. Because the retailers can load coupons and loyalty cards into users’ phones through Isis, the platform offers them the potential to build brand awareness and loyalty. Salt Lake City and Austin are the two test markets for Isis, and dozens of retailers in these two cities have announced their participation. Salt Lake City retailers will include Caputo’s, Utah Jazz, Sugar House Coffee and the Utah Transit Authority. In Austin, BookPeople, Texenza Coffee, Twin Liquors and DoubleDaves Pizzaworks are among the retailers who have joined Isis.
Christie Lewis of DoubleDave’s says Isis was a natural fit for her company because DoubleDave’s needs a way to compete with large national chains. “We want to make DoubleDave’s the go-to pizza restaurant for our customers,” says Lewis. “So we want to develop some type of habit for the consumer. When we send our guests targeted offers, which our franchises tailor to their needs, these offers will not be lost or forgotten or sit around until they expire. Anytime a customer opens up their mobile wallet, they will be reminded of DoubleDave’s and that is huge for us.”
DoubleDave’s uses Microworks PriSM point-of-sale software, which is compatible with the Isis platform. Isis has agreements in place with the four largest American manufacturers of point of sale terminals (cash registers.) These vendors are in the process of upgrading their customers to contactless terminals, and Isis says that together they have 95% of the market. Most point of sale terminals in the United States are expected to be ready for contactless payments by 2015.
In order to pay with a smartphone, a user loads credit card information into the phone, and that information is encrypted when the phone sends it to the point of sale terminal. Currently, the financial institutions whose credit cards are accepted by Isis are American Express, Chase, Capital One and Barclays. The financial institutions pay a fee to Isis each time one of their cards is loaded into a phone.
Bottom Line: Isis now has a strong set of financial partners and retail partners. The challenge in the months ahead will be convincing smartphone users to incorporate Isis into their phones and their lifestyles.
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