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