AT&T, T-Mobile & Verizon to Invest $100 Million in Isis Mobile Commerce System

Written on
Aug 29, 2011 
Gavin Dunaway  |

ADOTAS – Although Google summoned a lot of fanfare to launch its digital Wallet, a mobile commerce solution that employed NFC technology and the Android mobile operating system, even if you squinted really hard, it was obvious that the application was limited (which is really too kind an adjective). The age of the digital wallet is coming, but Google Wallet didn’t herald its arrival, just a step.

Arguably, Google’s chief competition in the digital wallet game is Isis. Initially a partnership between AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to build a mobile commerce solution through Discover Financial Systems (thereby edging out major credit card companies like MasterCard and Visa) that included NFC-based mobile payment systems for retailers, Isis actually partnered with MasterCard and Visa and lowered its ambitions to just being a digital wallet following Google’s launch of Wallet. Even those plans seemed up in the air as Google was reportedly trying to woo over AT&T and T-Mobile. (Are they the same company yet or what? I’m expecting slightly better wireless service any day now.)

However, Bloomberg reports that the three (two?) wireless carriers are about to dump $100 million into Isis. In addition to enabling mobile payments, the service would also let consumers receive and redeem coupons on their mobile devices.

In going up against Google, Isis’ chief advantage is that it has the right members and partners. Google Wallet is so far limited to Sprint and the NFC-enabled Nexus S phone on the mobile side and Citibank and Visa for financial. Still, Wallet is set to launch next month, while goodness knows what kind of technology infrastructure Isis is working with.

Still, I have a sneaking suspicion that Google Wallet and Isis will eventually join forces to become the dominant digital wallet solution… Though I wonder if all these big shoulders in the mobile commerce space will rub against each other a little too much. Perhaps if the revenue is flowing, that won’t matter.

Gavin Dunaway is Editor, U.S. at AdMonsters, a leading trade publication, event producer and service provider for the online advertising industry. Previously, he had been Senior Editor of Adotas, where he arrived after years of ping-ponging around various industry publications. This Washington, D.C. native and George Mason University graduate also enjoys playing electric guitar so loud that the walls shake.

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