Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are Teaming up for Mobile Payment Solutions



An unholy trinity of wireless carriers in the United States is teaming up under the banner of ‘Isis’ to create a standardized mobile payment system. The carriers teaming up? Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile. Together they serve more than 200 million wireless customers.

The joint venture called Isis also includes Discover and Barclay’s. Talk about some heavy hitters. The soon to be released Nexus S smartphone from Samsung will have an NFC chipset inside of it and Google’s Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ update will bring the software support for NFC. (NFC stands for near field communication, an extremely short-range wireless technology.)

Besides just creating a network for mobile payment at retailers through NFC, Isis has plans to create an entire network of vendors, retailers and suppliers. Think along the lines of coupons on your mobile phone, special promotions only accessible by walking into your local retailer and downloading data from the store’s NFC system and of course all of the valuable market analytics that these systems can collect.

Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5, which is expected to launch in mid 2011, should have NFC technology of its own. Apple also has its wildly popular iTunes store to work with. Basically, if you have ever used iTunes with your iPod or iOS device, Apple already has your name, address and probably your billing information too. It just needs to get some retailers on board and it will be all set to go. This is exactly what the new Isis joint venture is afraid of—more Apple dominance.

As part of their deal, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are promising that each will have all of their phones NFC compatible eventually. Because Discover is part of the Isis team, retailers that accept Discover cards will quickly be brought into the fold. I’m not sure how long all of this will take to come to fruition—retailers need to buy new equipment to read NFC smartphone ‘e-wallets’ and manufacturers will need to start putting in NFC chipsets as a standard feature like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. But don’t worry. Eventually everyone will be zipping along with NFC payment options on their phones. It just might take 5 or more years.

Excited about the possibilities of this Isis joint-venture? Think NFC really is going to take off? Let me know below in the comments!

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