The Isis mobile payment platform backed by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile hasn't exactly taken off, but that's to be expected: today it's only available as a trial program in Austin and Salt Lake City. The latest press release from Isis announces that the NFC-powered platform will expand nationwide later this year, though a specific date was not mentioned. Isis is widely regarded as the reason that Google Wallet remains inaccessible to most Android users on the networks of its three founding companies.

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The press release talks a lot about how a huge amount of smartphones include NFC functionality, and how more than a million locations will have contactless payments available by the end of the year. But the praises for Isis itself are focused on infrastructure providers (like the carriers) and retailers, not the end-users. "More than one-third of active Isis Mobile Wallets users in Austin have loaded a My Coke Rewards card into their Wallet since our pilot began," writes a Coca-Cola representative. The PR mentions that two-thirds of Isis users opted to receive "special offers" - discounts and other advertising.

There is at least one promising statistic: the average Isis Mobile Wallet user in the testing area used the service "more than 10 times a month." That implies that those who try NFC payments with their phones find it enjoyable, or at least easy enough to continue doing. That's probably small comfort to Google, since its Wallet NFC payments haven't found a sizeable foothold in the US. Sprint is the only one of the "big four" carriers that actively supports Wallet... and the only one left out of Isis.

Isis expansion will probably happen by store rather than by region. Notable retail partners include Coca-Cola, Macy's, Jamba Juice, Office Max, Toys R Us, and Foot Locker. Isis will also be available to small businesses.

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Isis®, the mobile commerce joint venture created by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US Inc. and Verizon Wireless, today announced plans to roll out the Isis Mobile Wallet™ nationwide later this year, following successful pilots in Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Isis Mobile Wallet uses near field communication (NFC) technology to allow consumers to pay, redeem coupons and present loyalty cards with a tap of their smartphone. To use the Isis Mobile Wallet, consumers need an NFC-enabled smartphone and a SIM-based secure element, which together make the device Isis Ready®.

Nearly 20 million smartphones in market currently feature NFC technology, with millions more being shipped each month by three of the nation’s leading carriers – AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US Inc. and Verizon Wireless. Thirty-five mobile devices across AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US Inc. and Verizon Wireless currently support Isis and that number will continue to grow. Support for iPhone, Windows Phone and Blackberry 10 is expected to be introduced later this year.

Consumers that activate the Isis Mobile Wallet can pay at retail locations that accept contactless payments, the number of which has steadily grown over the past several years. Twenty-five of the top 100 national retailers have deployed or are deploying contactless terminals. Aite Group projects that 1.3 million locations in the U.S. will have contactless-ready payment terminals by year end, making it the most broadly deployed mobile payments technology at the point of sale.

Isis will be incorporating key learnings from the successful pilot of the Isis Mobile Wallet in Austin and Salt Lake City into its planned national rollout later this year. Findings from the pilot launched in October 2012 show that:

  • On average, active Isis Mobile Wallet users tap more than 10 times per month
  • Two-thirds of active users opted in to receive offers and messages from their favorite brands, following an average of seven brands
  • Contactless acceptance nearly quadrupled to more than 4,000 locations in Austin and Salt Lake City
  • More than 80 percent of transactions take place at everyday spend locations such as quick-service restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, convenience and grocery stores
  • Wallet users engaged in loyalty and offers tap up to two times more frequently than users who only make payments

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Robert Alex Kibler

    I'm still bitter that the three major carriers blocked Google Wallet, but to be completely honest, I'll probably use ISIS when it comes to the rest of the world, because I want NFC payments that desperately.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      I want NFC payments to become a thing, but I'm sort of opposed to the carriers being in control of it. As it is, I have to remind myself to use Google Wallet, and I usually forget until it's too late. The odds are pretty good that I won't bother to ever install/use ISIS unless it becomes a must-have.

      • Robert Alex Kibler

        I hear ya. I'm basically at that point too. And I'm definitely opposed to ISIS. And now that I really think about it, I probably won't use it, since most of my shopping is done at walmart (closest grocery store in 20 miles), and my walmart doesn't have NFC support.

        However, what I would like to see happen is millions of people using NFC payments (ISIS or other), which would hopefully spur even better, non-carrier-controlled apps from other people.

        Or, and I know this seems really inconvenient, but I would like the app for each store to work as payment. For example, the Walmart app would let you add a credit/debit card and tap to pay with it at the store. Same with Best Buy. I believe the Starbucks app works similarly to this, except it generates a barcode instead of using NFC. I can load money onto my starbucks card and have the cashier scan it at the POS.

        I would like it to be automatic though, and just automatically draw money from my credit/debit card as needed, with the option to pre-load the account with money.

        I can dream, can't I?

        • hp420

          Using a separate app to pay for each individual store would honestly make me not ever install a single store's app....could you imagine how much storage you would need to have in order to have a 10mb app to pay at each grocery store, gas station, pharmacy, bakery, convenience store, etc? My phone would have more store apps than anything else. It may not matter as much to those with an SD card option, but if you're a nexus user you would literally need at least a 64GB sd card just to fit all those store apps. It would just get out of hand.

          • Robert Alex Kibler

            haha, I think 64GB might be a bit of an exaggeration. Most store apps are quite small. Walmart is 10MB, Best Buy is 3MB, Starbucks is 6.5MB, etc. I do agree that it would be unwieldy to have a different app for each one, but if that's what it takes to make NFC payments take off, I'd be okay with it. I'd just put them all in a folder and hide them from my launcher so I don't have to see them when I don't want to use them.

            Either way, I definitely see your point. I just really want NFC payment to take off, because I hate having to carry around four different cards, plus my license and cash. I'd love to just stick my license behind my battery cover and forget about it.

          • hp420

            Yup....10mb per app adds up far faster than you'd think. Also, I feel I should mention that is only the actual size of the installed apk. That 10mb app's data cache could easily quadruple the size of the total storage used, as so many apps do. Currents, for example, is under 10mb I believe, but if you look at the cache size, it can easily be over 150mb. Store 20 of those, one for each store, and you're looking at 3gb just in store apps and their caches. I don't know about you, but I use a nexus 4 and I only get about 14gb after my rom is installed, etc. that 3gb is precious retail space and I'm not willing to give it up just to make a wireless payment when I could install a single 15mb app that does the same thing and call it a day.

          • Robert Alex Kibler

            I definitely understand. Like I said, it's not preferable to have multiple apps, and I totally understand the storage argument (even though I have the 32GB Galaxy Nexus and have never once even gave my remaining storage a second thought. It's certainly never been full). I just really want NFC payments. :( Why can't we all just get along and make a new payment service not Google Wallet or ISIS, not controller by carriers or government, and let us use it for all types of cards, debit and credit.

    • Havoc70

      I thinks its crap that they are allowed to actively block an app (Wallet) so they can take their Isis and shove it up their Arses.

  • Nick Saulino

    Too bad it won't run on my rooted S4. Guess I'll stick with Google Wallet.

    I like the look of Wallet better anyways.

    • hp420

      Runs just fine on my rooted Nexus s and my rooted nexus 4. Did you sideload it?

      • Nick Saulino

        It installed fine from the Play Store, but when I open it, it tell me that my device is rooted and will not run.

        I have a Verizon S4.

    • John O’Connor

      LOL, looks like the basic layout of wallet anyhow, with some minor formatting and tweaks with layouts, colors, fonts, etc

  • Stephen Fronda

    I'm just angry that they block Google Wallet and will not let me use Isis. I basically have to to to TX or UT physically to obtain a special SIM in order to use it. THAT is litterally the only thing keeping me from using it. You'd think they could just send you one.

    • Quint

      Not sure what carrier you are on, but Verizon allowed me to place an order for the ISIS SIM online and I am in Florida. I activated the SIM and used Isis at a CVS. You can use it where the PayWave icon is displayed.

      • Robert Alex Kibler

        Wait, really? I have Verizon in SW Pennsylvania. Did it cost you anything, or did you just call their customer service line and ask for an ISIS Sim? And is it still an LTE sim?

        • Quint

          There is no cost. I placed the order in My Verizon. And yes, it's an LTE SIM

          • Robert Alex Kibler

            That's fantastic. I'll definitely be doing that.

          • Robert Alex Kibler

            Oh, weird, there's no option listed for my Galaxy Nexus. Oh well, I don't have any of the cards they support anyway.

          • Quint

            I don't think the Galaxy Nexus was ever approved for Isis.

          • Robert Alex Kibler

            I'm not at all surprised. It worked excellently with Google Wallet (sideloaded) until it started getting blocked. I don't know the state of it at this point, but I know for a while Google had blocked the VZW Gnex so we couldn't use it. I suppose it doesn't really matter too much because there are very few paypass POS's in my area, and those that are here really suck. usually they fail when I try to use my Visa with PayWave.

          • Quint

            The experience is definitely hit or miss in my area... The McDonald's I tried was a bust... There was on orange light that lit up. It took too long so I used my debit card. The CVS I went to was flawless.

      • Stephen Fronda

        I'm with T-Mobile. They told me they couldn't send one.

  • Quint

    I am irked that you can only add certain cards onto Isis. And even if I have the appropriate card, there is no guarantee that Isis will allow me to add it. I just wish these carriers unblock Google Wallet.

  • behemothdan

    Currently I use NFC for public transportation as ISIS has a promotion with UTA for free public transportation. The beautiful part is they don't distinguish between ISIS taps and Google Wallet taps

    • Robert Alex Kibler

      That is seriously awesome.

  • Matthew Fry

    "Successful pilot" might be a bit hyperbolic.... Although they are right that it seems to have skyrocketed in the last 4 months or so. It is actually a big incentive not to root (which really pisses me off). Either they or an entrepreneuring business person created this mobile unit that upgrades POS's at the retailer and I think that has helped a lot. Overall, it's been a bittersweet pilot.

  • hp420

    Screw ISIS!!! This is nothing but a knock-off of what should have taken off long ago (Google Wallet). Just because Tmo, att and the evil red conglomerate backed ISIS, they b!tched about wallet coming preinstalled on devices, even though it's FAR more widely used and accessible, and wallet will now suffer an unfortunate death!!! I seriously hope all 3 companies take a dive in the sum of several $million each because of their ignorance....it would serve them right for turning their backs on the one company actually making useful mobile software freely available to the masses. If wallet dies and ISIS reigns supreme, that is it for me....I'll never make a single mobile e-payment again as long as I live. I won't support some sh!tty 3rd party overthrowing another technology just because of financial backing.

    Seriously, I really hope ISIS crashes and burns and all 3 carriers take a HUGE loss on that happening. It would serve them right!

  • NuLLnVoiD

    Isis only allows 3 credit cards, none of which I have or want. If they allowed a debit card, I'd consider it. If Big Red quit blocking G-Wallet, I'd pick wallet any day over Isis.

  • Wazzifer

    Nope. Screw Isis. Google Wallet works flawlessly on my N4.

  • http://jamieellis.co.cc/ Jamie Ellis

    Just an idea but they should created just one US ISIS Wallet App not 3 but then again this is where networks want 3 or more US versions of a mobile device.

    Note to the pending UK ISIS equivalent thats been on the radar for over 2 years by O2, Vodafone, EE and Three - ONE app.

    An Pan European Mobile Payments service for those using the € could be good as they in an financial union along with the EU over 28 states wants to 'reform' one piece of the reform is No Roaming Fees and proposal with EU Telecommunications such SFR in France could offer service to customers from the EU!

    If you want an international mobile payments service that not crippled by nationality - use Paypal and from late 2013 MasterPass and/or V.me/Visa Paywave!

  • John Smith

    I've recently set up Google Wallet and there's only 1 shop that I've found that has a terminal for NFC payments

  • Brian Menius

    I gave up on Google pulling their collective head out of their collective back side for Wallet long ago. I've been using ISIS in Memphis, TN, for a few months and am very happy with it.

    I got tired of trying to hack Wallet onto my phone and ultimately gave up when there wasn't a viable hack for the Note II. Now I can just move my SIM between NFC-capable phones and be more than fine.

    Also working against Wallet (for my needs) is their method of processing payments, a method that sees each transaction laundered through Google as a Google transaction on the CC statement. With my Chase Freedom card, that was going to interfere with my accrual of reward points. ISIS handles that perfectly, but I do admit that I'm fortunate that they chose to support the card I carry.

    • yankeesusa

      The reason you were hacking your phone to install wallet is not because of google. Its because of verizon att and tmobile. Do a little reasearch.

      • Brian Menius

        No research necessary here; I already know this. Don't be obtuse.

        My statement still stands; Google hasn't put the ass behind Wallet that they need to have put behind it at this point. They are not nearly as invested in its success as the pro-Google, anti-carrier bunch wants to believe.

        For their part, though, the carriers have been dragging way too much ass on getting ISIS out for prime time. I don't think it's a matter of them trying to find a way to monetize it; rather, I think it's that they just don't know WTF they are doing.

        The fragmentation in the "mobile payments" space and the complete ineptitude of any of the players to " or get off the pot" has resulted in the disjointed nonsense we have now- Wallet, ISIS, PayPal POS payments, whatever MCX claims they're doing....

        NFC may not even shake out as the "mobile payments" standard- but for now, at least, I'll enjoy being able to use it through ISIS while I can.

  • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

    Still not going to use it on principle over the carriers blocking of Wallet.

  • MeCampbell30

    If this turns out to be shti and google wallet dies because of it I will be pissed.

  • Ryan Steddy

    Can someone explain to a non US person what exactly Isis is? Do pay points support one or the other, both or doesn't it matter?
    As far as I'm aware in the UK we just have NFC in shops and never have to worry about companies. Although we don't have Google wallet.

  • jOn Garrett

    funny how they now want to pick up the pace with NFC payments now that the next iPhone is supposed to have an NFC chip.

  • jOn Garrett

    ISIS is garbage, don't even waste your time installing it--it wont work, EVER.