AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA have launched their Isis mobile payments program a bit behind schedule, but with strong device support. Isis says nine handsets already support the mobile payments platform, with 11 more scheduled to come on board before the end of the year. Handsets including the Samsung Galaxy S III, the HTC One X and the HTC Droid Incredible all support Isis, according to Near Field Communications World. The iPhone 5 does not include NFC (near field communication) technology, which enables a chip in the smartphone to communicate with chips in credit card readers when they are swiped near the readers.
Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas are the two test cities for Isis. Smartphone users in those cities who want to start using their phones as wallets will need to visit their service provider’s retail store to pick up a new SIM card that includes a secure element to store credit card information. Then they will need to download the Isis app from Google Play, and enter an eligible American Express, Capital One or Chase credit card number into the app. (If they do not have an eligible card, subscribers can use the Isis credit card that is part of the app.)
Isis will only work at participating retailers, in specific locations. In both launch cities, a number of 7-Eleven stores and McDonald’s restaurants are set to accept Isis mobile payments. Isis has said that a big draw for retailers is the ability to attach loyalty cards to the app.
Carriers and banks are clearly excited about the potential of mobile payments, but consumers are less so. Last week at MobilCon 2012, Isis’s chief marketing officer told a panel that consumers are not really asking for mobile payments at this time. Isis is hoping that the platform will be compelling enough to retailers and banks to incent these partners to market the app to their customers.
Some of the retailers that could benefit most from mobile payments probably don’t have the marketing budgets to promote something like Isis. Small businesses who are not yet set up to accept credit cards could potentially skip the credit card step altogether and go straight to mobile payments.