AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are reportedly scaling back their hopes for the NFC-based Isis network. With MasterCard and Visa on board, the struggle now is over customer data.
T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are reportedly scaling back their hopes for Isis,
the mobile commerce network based on near-field communication technology
that they introduced in November
setting up a payment network and collecting fees on every transaction, the trio
now have the more modest goal of setting up a "mobile wallet" that can
store and exchange the account information on a users' existing Visa,
MasterCard or other card," The Wall Street Journal
reported May 4, citing people
familiar with the matter.
plan was to use Discover's national payment infrastructure, and tap Barclaycard
US's experience in contactless and mobile payments. However, according to the
report, the trio found it difficult to get merchants on board without the
inclusion of industry giants MasterCard and Visa.
embrace of the major card companies was needed to avoid falling further behind
in the race to establish a standard way for letting consumers pay for products
with their cell phones," the Journal reported, again citing sources.
Isis executive has disputed the Journal article, disagreeing with the idea that
the company is scaling back. Instead, CMO Jaymee Johnson told Computerworld
, the move to
open it up to other payment platforms has been in the works for a while, and is
an "acceleration" of Isis' game plan rather than a scaling back.
carriers] were never going to be the bank, and that may be an important
clarification," Johnson told Computerworld.
With the major payment networks now welcome into the fold,
the report added, the new struggle is regarding who will control what's known
as the "secure element"-each user's private information that's for now
stored on the magnetic strip of credit cards. Motivating the struggle is that
such information would offer details about each customer that companies could
use to extend customized offers: a.k.a., more money.
phone companies want to store the credentials in the phone's SIM card [while]
device makers such as RIM and software providers such as Google want to store
the credentials on an NFC [near-field communication] chip or the phone itself, potentially cutting
carriers out of the loop," the Journal reported.
November 2010 Web 2.0 Summit, Google CEO Eric Schmidt showed off an
Android-running smartphone with an NFC chip and explained to attendees
: "The theory of the
case is that you'll be able to take these mobile devices from everybody, and
you'll be able to walk into a store and do commerce and be able to figure out
where you are, again with your permission. It could eventually literally
replace your credit card."
Last summer, Apple hired an NFC expert
and published a number
of NFC-related patents, giving rise to rumors that the Apple iPhone 5 would
include an NFC chip.
Motion did away with the need for any similar speculations, announcing May 2
that its new BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 smartphones will include built-in
support for NFC. With the United States still lacking a payment system for the
technology-as countries such as Japan have enjoyed for years-RIM was forced to
downplay its capabilities, explaining in a statement that NFC "will enable
many rich and exciting experiences. Through NFC, users will be able to, for
example, pair the BlackBerry Bold to an accessory or read information such as a
Web link from smart tags by simply tapping their BlackBerry Bold to an NFC tag
[on, say, a Smart Poster]."
Isis plans to
stage its first pilot program for the technology in mid 2012, in cooperation
with the Utah Transit Authority, according the Journal. Instead of purchasing
the traditional fare, participants will be able to access Utah's mass-transit
systems by tapping an electronic fare reader with an Isis-enabled phone
containing an NFC chip.