When three of the big four mobile carriers -- AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US, and Verizon Wireless -- agree on something, you know that it's going to get a big push. The three companies formed Isis in early 2011 to orchestrate the future of near field communication (NFC) payments, and today the joint venture announced that the Isis Mobile Wallet system will be rolled out nationwide later this year.
Isis Mobile Wallet users need an NFC-enabled smartphone and a SIM-based secure element to be considered "Isis Ready." Many Samsung Android devices are equipped for NFC, both for local file sharing and payments. At this point, NFC technology isn't built into iPhones, nor has there been any word from Apple on whether the technology will be in future devices. Nevertheless, the joint venture notes that support for iPhone, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 will be introduced this year.
Isis trials were held in Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah, and the Isis group found that the users were quite happy with paying from their smartphones. The trial showed that active users used their devices for payment more than 10 times per month, acceptance of contactless payment quadrupled to almost 4,000 locations in the two cities, and that 80 percent of the transactions took place at places like fast-food restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, and convenience and grocery stores.
If Apple doesn't embrace NFC with the next generation of iPhones, it's likely that an NFC-enabled case will be required in order to use Isis.