Three of the top U.S. carriers are hoping you'll soon leave your wallet at home -- on purpose -- and start using your smartphone to manage all your daily transactions.
AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile on Monday launched Isis, their joint venture aimed at spreading near-field communication payments at participating businesses. But the rollout is narrow: For now, only users of select Android-powered devices in two cities -- Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas -- can "get out and get tapping," as AT&T put it.
Pay with Your Droid
Verizon Wireless users in those cities who have an HTC Droid Incredible 4G can now stop into one of the carrier's stores to have a special SIM card added, then download the Isis app from Google Play. Soon, Motorola Droid Razor HD or Razor Max owners will be able to do the same.
AT&T is starting out with a larger lineup of devices at rollout: Samsung's Galaxy S III, HTC's One X, Samsung's Exhilarate, LG's Escape and Samsung's Rugby Pro.
T-Mobile device customers can use Isis on a Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy S II Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G and the HTC Amaze 4G.
"The launch of the Isis Mobile Wallet in Austin and Salt Lake City represents a milestone for both Isis and the mobile-commerce industry," said Ryan Hughes, chief marketing officer for Isis. "With as many as 20 'Isis Ready' handsets headed to market by year-end, we are experiencing an unprecedented level of support for NFC and consumer choice."
Since none of those devices, however, have the market penetration of Apple's top-selling iPhone, which is not equipped for the NFC technology Isis uses, it may still be awhile before you see Isis at your corner drug store or local subway station.
"The mobile payment segment is very small right now but it could become a sizable business in three to five years if security issue perceptions are dealt with," said Kirk Parsons, a mobile devices analyst at J.D. Power and Associates.
"Once the distribution channels are well established and more folks own devices that can accept mobile payments, then this service has potential."
Addressing Security Concerns
Parsons told us the carriers can boost confidence in security by "educating the public on how the technology works and why its secure. I'm sure they will play up the convenience aspect, but the idea of security and account/password protection is critical."
A tab about safety on the Isis Web site, paywithisis.com, notes that users can set up a personal identification number for payments. The Isis Wallet can also be disabled or with a call to the carrier. The SIM card's "constantly changing security codes are designed to prevent counterfeiting of your cards," Isis says.
Addressing privacy concerns, Isis also says it won't collect data on where you shop or what you buy.
Posted: 2012-10-24 @ 3:06pm PT
I'll pass... I'm actually looking forward to another provider's plan (www.mpowa.com) to migrating from swipe reader to chip & pin devices which will be due end of the year.