AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are reportedly poised to invest $100 million in their joint mobile payment venture called Isis, a near field communication-based contactless payment system that will do battle in the increasingly competitive mobile payments market. According to Bloomberg, the carriers are still determining exactly how much to invest based on Isis’ ability to obtain support from banks and merchants, but they could throw in a lot more money if the platform can gain momentum.
Isis will have to play catch-up with Google Wallet , the open NFC platform launched by Google, MasterCard and Citibank. That payment system was unveiled in May and is set to open to the public soon. Google Wallet lets people pay for things by waving their NFC-enabled Android phone at point-of-sale terminals that are equipped to handle MasterCard Paypass purchases. However, Google’s offering is limited right now to just the Nexus S from Sprint, and it hasn’t announced new credit card or banking partners beyond MasterCard and Citibank.
Isis, meanwhile, is backed by credit card companies MasterCard, Visa , American Expressand Discover. But the first trials won’t begin until next year in Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas. That will put it behind Google Wallet, though with few NFC-enabled devices available so far, it may not be that much of a disadvantage. But will consumers even embrace NFC payments on their handsets when the tech does become available? Questions about thesecurity, reliability and fees of mobile payments still suggest that adoption will be slow, at least initially.