UPDATE: September 3, 2014
-- The company behind Isis Wallet has officially changed its name to Softcard. CEO Michael Abbot explained in a blog post that the company is rebranding itself because “however coincidental, we have no desire to share a name" with the extremist group responsible for the vicious campaign of violence in Syria and Iraq. The company had announced in July that it was looking for a new name to avoid association with the violent Islamic militant group.
Our original story from November 2013 continues below.
Mobile payment systems have slowly become popular with services such as Google Wallet finally making their way into brick and mortar stores. The latest addition to the mobile payments market comes from Isis, a mobile-commerce joint venture created by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless.
The carrier-backed Isis Mobile Wallet service appears promising, especially since mobile payments have yet to become commonplace in most stores, leaving the market wide open. Along with the official launch, an updated version of the Isis app was released for Android devices as well as for the various carriers involved with the system.
Can It Succeed?
Without too many hiccups prior to launch, Isis is off to a good start; but just as we have seen with Google Wallet, bringing mobile payment systems into the average store is not easy. As a result, everyone is wondering whether or not Isis can succeed given that Google Wallet has not.
It is not exactly easy for people to start using Isis, either. First of all, the service is only supported on select Android phones, which vary by carrier. If your phone happens to be supported, you will have to make a trip to a carrier store in order to receive an "enhanced" SIM card that specifically enables Isis.
iOS devices will not be supported until Apple introduces NFC (near-field communication) to its products or until carriers come up with an accessory that enables NFC. Carriers are already trying to find a way to get NFC onto iOS devices since doing so could easily double the amount of Isis users.
Isis is already set up to work with a number of nationwide retailers including CVS, Macy's, Jamba Juice, Radio Shack, Walgreens, and others. This combination should help Isis become more popular than previous payment systems, but it will take more than a few stores to make it a common payment method.
Everyone involved with Isis understands that it will be a long road if the payment system is to succeed. For now, many of its partners have decided to offer incentives to Isis users in order to spur adoption and create interest among current Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T customers.
Discounts and freebies are offered through Isis itself, as well as through its partners. For example, Jamba Juice will be giving away 1 million free smoothies. My Coke Rewards will be supported, meaning that Isis users can receive free drinks at vending machines. And, purchases that are made from an American Express Serve account through Isis can receive a 20 percent discount, up to $200.
Whether or not these rewards will be enough to increase adoption rates for Isis has yet to be seen, but most analysts agree that mobile payment systems will eventually become common -- so it's just a matter of time.