Isis Announces First Pilot City as Competition Increases

The Isis joint venture, led by big U.S. mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless, has announced the location of its first NFC pilot next year, Salt Lake City, Utah. And NFC Times has learned that a second pilot city is also planned, which likely will be Austin, Texas.

The Isis venture, which also includes T-Mobile USA, announced that a pilot will launch in Salt Lake City in early to mid-2012. The city is the home of the first transit authority to accept payment of fares by contactless credit and debit cards from all major card brands, including Visa, MasterCard Worldwide and American Express.

In its announcement, Isis said it had concluded an agreement with the Utah Transit Authority, or UTA, to accept the Isis brand from NFC phones, along with the other brands, to pay fares on buses and other transit. Isis said it would be followed by a rollout in the city, including at merchant locations throughout Salt Lake City. But while the UTA is equipped to handle payment from contactless cards and NFC phones, merchants in the city are not yet well covered by contactless terminals.

In addition, a source told NFC Times that Isis is also planning to launch a pilot in Austin, Texas, next year, though it’s not clear if that includes local transit in addition to merchants.

The joint venture is in the process of trying to sign up merchants nationally for its planned payment scheme, along with partner retail network, Discover Financial Services. That is an uphill battle, especially going up against entrenched payment brands Visa and MasterCard. And coverage of contactless terminals is meager for all of the card networks.

In addition, Sprint, the third largest U.S. mobile operator and the only one of the four major national carriers not involved in Isis, confirmed Monday that it plans to offer NFC services separately to subscribers before the end of the year. And the plans call for allowing all card brands in.

And other players are also getting involved in NFC-based mobile commerce, most notably Google, which is building a wallet that will be open generally to card brands and banks.

Isis, itself, has been emphasizing in recent weeks that its NFC mobile wallets would be "open" to all mobile-commerce players and again made the assertion in its announcement late yesterday, including being available to other card networks.

"Additionally, Isis is investing in the necessary infrastructure to enable mobile commerce on a nationwide basis and will be available to all merchants, banks, payment networks and mobile carriers," said Isis in a statement.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Isis brand payment would share the same wallets on NFC phones sold by AT&T and Verizon as accounts branded Visa and MasterCard.

The Isis telcos also have made a point of saying that payment will not be the only service consumers will be able to use on their NFC phones. It said Isis will "evolve to offer customers a highly secure and convenient way to pay, redeem coupons and store merchant loyalty cards, all with the tap of their phone."


Australian Transit Agency to Launch Mobility-as-a-Service Trial as It Pursues Long-Term MaaS Strategy

Plans by Transport for New South Wales, Australia’s largest transit agency, to launch a trial enabling users to plan, book and pay for multimodal rides is the next step toward the agency’s long-ter

Updated: U.S. Transit Agency Seeks to Reduce–Though Not Eliminate–Cash Acceptance with New Fare-Collection System

Updated: The Spokane Transit Authority in Washington state confirmed that its new fare-collection system will include contactless open-loop payments–with a beta test planned for next October, a spokesman told NFC Times' sister publication Mobility Payments.

UK Government Seeks to Bring London-Style Contactless Fare Payments System to Other Regions

The UK government’s plan to equip 700 rail stations over the next three years to accept contactless open-loop payments is a major initiative, as it seeks to replicate the success of London’s contactless pay-as-you go fare payments system elsewhere in the country–a goal that has proved elusive in the past.

More Cities in Finland Expected to Move to Open-Loop Fare Payments

A fourth city in Finland is beginning to roll out contactless open-loop payments, with “more in the pipeline,” according to one supplier on the project, making the Nordic country one of the latest hotspots for the technology.

Moscow Metro Expands Test of ‘Virtual Troika’ in Pays Wallets, as It Continues to Develop Digital-Payments Services

Moscow Metro is recruiting more users to test its “Virtual Troika” card in two NFC wallets, those supporting Google Pay and Samsung Pay, as one of the world’s largest subway operators continues to seek more ways for its customers to pay for rides.

Ohio Transit Agency Expects Significant Revenue Loss as it Builds Equity with Fare Capping

The Central Ohio Transit Authority, or COTA, officially launched its new digital-payments service Monday, including a fare-capping feature that the agency estimates will cost it $1.8 million per year in lost fare revenue, the agency confirmed to Mobility Payments.

Special Report: Interest Grows in ‘White-Label EMV’ for Closed-Loop Transit Cards

As more transit agencies introduce open-loop fare payments, interest is starting to grow in use of white-label EMV cards that agencies can issue in place of proprietary closed-loop cards for riders who don’t have bank cards or don’t want to use them to pay fares.

Swedish Transit Agency Launches Express Mode Feature for Apple Pay, though Most Ticketing Still with Barcode-Based App

Skånetrafiken, the transit agency serving one of Sweden’s largest counties, announced today it has expanded its contactless open-loop payments service to include the Express Mode feature for Apple Pay.

Major Bus Operators in Hong Kong Now Accepting Open-Loop Payments–Adding More Competition for Octopus

Two more bus operators in Hong Kong on Saturday launched acceptance of open-loop contactless fare payments, with both also accepting QR code-based mobile ticketing–as the near ubiquitous closed-loop Octopus card continues to see more competition.

Moscow Metro Launches Full Rollout of ‘Face Pay;’ Largest Biometric Payments Service of Its Kind

Touting it as the largest rollout of biometric payments in the world, Moscow Metro launched its high-profile “Face Pay” service Friday, as expected, and predicted that 10% to 15% would regularly us

Indonesian Capital Seeks to Expand to Multimodal Fare Collection and MaaS

Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, whose metropolitan area is home to more than 30 million people, is notorious for its stifling traffic congestion. In response, the government metro and light-rail networks and now it is funding an expansion of the fare-collection system to enable more multimodal payments and to build a mobility-as-a-service platform.

Exclusive: NFC Wallets Grow as Share of Contactless Fare Payments and Not Only Because of Covid

Transit agencies that have rolled out open-loop contactless payments are seeing growing use of NFC wallets to pay fares, as Covid-wary passengers see convenience in tapping their phones or wearables to pay.