Isis Pledges Broad Handset Range, Seeks Contrast with Google Wallet

Six major phone makers will introduce NFC phones that would support the Isis wallet and mobile-commerce applications, the Isis joint venture announced today, promising to offer a larger pool of handsets than Google could offer for its own wallet

Isis, made up of Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA, said Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Research in Motion, HTC, Motorola Mobility and Sony Ericsson would introduce NFC phones that would support Isis technology specifications.

But these specifications mainly apply to how banks and other service providers will provision their payment applications on secure elements in the Isis phones, Isis confirmed to NFC Times. And the Isis specifications largely match global standards for the secure provisioning of applications.

So the announcement does not represent close partnerships or endorsements by the handset makers of the joint venture, since support by the phone makers of the Isis standards really means they support standard NFC technology and secure elements. And all six phone makers had already made known their plans to introduce NFC phones.

But it does indicate there will probably be a pool of NFC-enabled smartphones from a variety of major handset makers that the Isis telcos could put on sale supporting their wallet applications. 

And the announcement boosts momentum for the joint venture and helps blunt the bounce rival wallet provider Google received Sept. 19, when it announced the launch of the wallet.

Compared with six major smartphone makers that say they will release NFC phones that could support Isis, Google and its lone carrier partner for the wallet, Sprint, can boast of only one handset so far supporting the feature, Google’s own Nexus S 4G.

Sprint, the third largest U.S. mobile operator, plans more handsets supporting the wallet by early next year. Presumably, that includes many of the future Android phones from Motorola Mobility, which is set to become what Google describes as an autonomous unit of the Web giant. But most observers anticipated that Droid phones and others from Motorola would support Isis, as well, since the Isis telcos are important customers for Motorola.

“Today’s announcement signals the growing acceptance of NFC technology by some of the world’s leading device makers,” said Kouji Kodera, HTC’s chief product officer, in a statement. “At HTC, we see tremendous opportunities for consumers and merchants, as we move beyond traditional payments to a future of NFC-enabled mobile commerce.”

HTC recently released its first NFC-enabled phone for the U.S. market, the 4G Amaze, which T-Mobile has announced it will introduce Oct. 10. It likely will not support Isis until the joint venture is ready to launch services next year, however. T-Mobile and, reportedly, AT&T, also plan to introduce the NFC version of Samsung’s Galaxy S II next month.

The three telcos are planning to launch Isis trials in Salt Lake City, Utah and Austin, Texas, during the first half of 2012, with a national rollout to follow. The Isis wallets will support payment cards, as well as loyalty programs, mobile coupons, transit ticketing and other applications. 

The six handset makers included in the announcement are among the top 10 phone manufacturers worldwide, according to second quarter unit shipments reported by U.S.-based Gartner research. Of the four other top 10 handset makers not listed in today’s announcement, Apple is not expected to support NFC in its next iPhone and Nokia and Chinese phone makers ZTE and Huawei do not have large market shares in the United States.

Included in today’s announcement also is support for Isis by U.S.-based DeviceFidelity, which makes contactless microSD cards, which are considered by many as an NFC bridge technology. The cards, which pack tiny contactless antennas, could be inserted into the microSD card slots in phones. This, along with booster antennas placed on the inside back covers of the phones, could give many non-NFC handsets a contactless interface.

DeviceFidelity also has introduced a contactless case and microSD slot for current versions of Apple’s iPhone, which does not have its own card slot. The microSDs inserted into the iPhone case potentially could support an Isis wallet, though today’s announcement did not mention the iPhone. Moreover, DeviceFidelity would have to design a new version of the attachment for the next iPhone and get certification for it from Apple.

The support from the major handset makers follows Isis’ announcement in July that all four major U.S. payment networks, Visa Inc., MasterCard Worldwide, American Express and Discover Financial Services, would be willing to offer contactless applications in an Isis wallet. That announcement helped to restore Isis’ momentum, after the joint venture earlier in the year abandoned it’s plans to introduce its own payment network and Isis-brand acceptance mark at the retail point of sale. Sources have told NFC Times that Isis is in advanced discussions with at least a couple of major banks or issuers, interested in being part of the Isis wallet.

Google with its wallet launch last week also announced that the major payment schemes would support future versions of the wallet. MasterCard’s PayPass application is featured in the current wallet, though payment appears to be one of the few uses for the Google Wallet, so far.

Article comments

 
Someone_asdf Oct 12 2011

LMFAO, this article is fail. SD card of any sort on an i-device?

Please register or login to post a comment.

HEADLINE NEWS

Case Study: BONNsmart Project Seeks to Introduce Open-Loop Payments to Cash-Loving Germany

SWB Bus and Bahn, the transit agency serving the city of Bonn, is the first such operator in Germany to accept contactless EMV payments.

Moovit Moves Forward to Enable Ticketing and Payments in App with More Transit Agencies

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Large trip-planning app provider Moovit has enabled customers of more than 50 mostly small transit agencies in the U.S. to buy mobile tickets it its app, with more agencies to come, the company confirmed to Mobility Payments.

Cubic: Recent MaaS Company Failures among Signs Pointing to Need for ‘MaaS 2.0’

There is little disputing the fact that mobility as a service has not yet lived up to its hype. And the industry’s largest automated fare collection system provider, Cubic Transportation Systems, said it believes that going forward, public transit services need to form the backbone of MaaS platforms, along with enabling more demand-responsive transport.

State of California Seeks to Change Way Transit Agencies Procure Fare Systems

As the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, sees it, the state’s more than 300 local transit agencies offer a fragmented and inefficient mix of fare collection systems–a fact it says discourages many potential riders among the state’s nearly 40 million residents from taking public transit.

Google Launches Ticketing in Maps after Delays; but Search Giant Says It has No Plans to Build MaaS App

Google has finally enabled users to initiate purchases of public transit tickets from its Maps app, following delays. Meanwhile, rival trip-planning app providers Moovit and Transit have been quietly moving forward with signing up most of the same small U.S. transit agencies to sell tickets in their apps.

Washington, D.C.’s, SmarTrip Latest Closed-Loop Fare Card Added to Pays Wallet

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, as expected, has added its closed-loop fare card SmarTrip to Google Pay, following support by Apple Pay for the card last year.

Open-Loop Payments Trial at Small California Transit Agency Could Lead to More Rollouts in Giant State

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – California public bus agency Monterey-Salinas Transit on Tuesday officially launched a six-month “demonstration” project to pilot contactless open-loop payments. While the agency is very small, providing only around 3,500 rides per day last year, the launch holds much greater significance.

Cubic Announces Two More Small Transit Agencies Launching Umo, as Company Seeks to Broaden Market Reach

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – U.S.-based Cubic Transportation Systems has announced contracts with two more small U.S. transit agencies to move to Cubic’s Umo ticketing platform, as the large automated fare-collection system vendor seeks to broaden its market reach.

In-Depth: Transit Agency Sells Passes for Bikes and Buses through Trip-Planning App, though Cash Still Reigns

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – RTC of Southern Nevada, the main transit agency serving Las Vegas and the surrounding region, now enables customers to buy passes for bike share in addition to tickets for buses through the trip-planning Transit app. Although the implementation is relatively small, project backers say Las Vegas is the first U.S. city to launch bike share and transit passes in the same app.

Budding MaaS App Hits Milestone for Public Transit Tickets but Share of Total Rides Still Low

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – U.S.-based trip-planning app Transit announced it has enabled 500,000 rides from its app for a group of 13 small to mid-tier transit agencies based in the state of Ohio, though mobile ticketing still makes up a small percentage of total rides provided by the agencies.

Insight: Apple Pay Launch of Virtual Closed-Loop Virtual Clipper Card Follows Emerging Trend

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Although the trend for transit agencies to support open-loop fare payments, including with Apple Pay, Google Pay and other Pays wallets, has continued unabated–even accelerated–during the pandemic, another trend is taking shape: That of agencies adding virtual versions of their closed-loop fare cards into the Pays wallets.

First Transit Agency to Sell Tickets Through Uber App Sees Relatively Few Takers Two Years on

Apr 21 2021

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The Regional Transportation District of Denver was the first transit agency to work with Uber to sell its bus and light rail tickets through the Uber app in the spring of 2019. RTD later that year expanded the service to trip-planning app Transit and then last fall to the app for another ride-hailing service, Lyft.