U.S. Mobile Operators Announce Planned ‘Isis’ NFC Service

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile USA announced their joint venture today, with plans to introduce NFC-based mobile payment in selected markets during the next 18 months.

The joint venture, calling its planned mobile-commerce network and brand "Isis," said it intends to use the carriers' massive customer base–more than 200 million combined subscribers–to lead the payments industry in the United States in the transition from cards to mobile phones. The mobile wallets the telcos offer on NFC phones will also provide membership and loyalty programs, personalized coupons, rewards and content.

The mobile carriers also announced their long-awaited pick for CEO of the venture, payments industry veteran Michael Abbott, formerly of GE Capital. The company the telcos formed, called JVL Ventures, is based in New York City.

"Our mobile commerce network, through relationships with merchants, will provide an enhanced, more convenient, more personalized shopping experience for consumers," said Abbott in a statement. "While mobile payments will be at the core of our offering, it is only the start. We plan to create a mobile wallet that ultimately eliminates the need for consumers to carry cash, credit and debit cards, reward cards, coupons, tickets and transit passes."

The telcos also confirmed they will partner with Discover Financial Services to tap in on Discover’s network of 7 million merchant locations in the United States–although fewer than 2% of those are now equipped to handle contactless payments. Barclaycard US will be the first issuer of "multiple mobile-payment products." But Abbott said in the statement that "moving forward, Isis will be available to all interested merchants, banks and mobile carriers."  

While Discover’s network and its Zip contactless application is present on most of the roughly 100,000 merchant locations that also accept contactless payment from Visa- and MasterCard-branded cards, the joint venture will have to build up the acceptance infrastructure greatly if it hopes to successfully wean consumers off of cards, say observers. The telcos are expected to first target cities with high concentrations of contactless terminals, such as New York City.

Abbott joined GE Capital, the financial services unit of General Electric Co., in 2002. According to the joint venture, he led strategy, marketing and product development for the GE unit’s private-label cards division. Before that, he served as executive vice president of marketing for credit card services at FleetBoston. There he launched new card products.

The telcos had searched for a CEO for months, and NFC Times learned they had been close to making an appointment on at least one occasion. The long-overdue hiring could help bring focus to the group, which faces an uphill climb to take on the major U.S. card networks Visa and MasterCard, along with major U.S. banks, in launching a new payment service.

It was unclear if the NFC services the announcement said the venture plans to launch within 18 months are in fact the pilots the group reportedly plans to hold by late 2011. 

 

HEADLINE NEWS

Report: Nearly Two-Thirds of Survey Respondents Say They’ve Used Contactless Cards During Pandemic

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – There’s more evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic is helping to change the way that consumers pay, with more use of contactless cards, mobile wallets and e-commerce channels, according to the “World Payments Report 2020” published Tuesday by global consulting firm Capgemini.

UK Public Transit Officials in Midlands Seek to Replicate London’s Success in Pay-as-You-Go Contactless

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Transit officials in the Midlands in the UK today are calling on the government to fund a London-style contactless fare-payments system across this large section of the country, which would enable riders to tap to pay for trips on rail, bus and tram networks with either closed- and open-loop cards and credentials on smartphones.  

Post-Lockdown, Transit Riders Want Agencies to Run Vehicles More Frequently, Provide Real-Time Arrival Information and Offer Contactless and Mobile Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight - Up to a third of transit riders in several cities say contactless payments and mobile ticketing would encourage them to return t

New York’s OMNY Project Completes Major Milestone, as Transit Officials Point to Steady Growth in Adoption

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it is seeing steady growth in use of its OMNY open-loop fare payments system by customers–though overall open-loop payments remain small–as the agency continues its phased rollout of acceptance of contactless EMV bank cards and NFC Pays wallets. 

In-Depth: Trip-Planning Giant Moovit Begins to Enable Ticketing and Payments, as Rivals Make Similar Moves

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Moovit, which bills itself as the world's largest “urban mobility app,” has begun to enable public transit ticketing and payments from its platform, as it seeks to deliver what it says is a true mobility-as-a-service experience for users.

Los Angeles Transit Authority Follows Through with Plans to Enable TAP Card for Apple Pay; Google Pay to Follow

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Another major U.S. transit agency has introduced a virtual closed-loop card for Apple Pay this week, with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, announcing the move Thursday. It comes a couple of days after the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, announced it had put its SmarTrip closed-loop card on Apple’s NFC-enabled devices, as well.

Apple Enables Virtual SmarTrip Fare Card for Apple Pay in Washington, D.C., with More Closed-Loop Transit Cards Expected This Year in U.S.

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple added support for its latest closed-loop transit card for Apple Pay, enabling customers of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, to tap their NFC-enabled iPhones and Apple Watches to pay for rides with WMATA’s SmarTrip virtual card.

Insight: Apple’s Long Game Pays Off, Conquering Resistance to Apple Pay from Banks in Europe and Beyond

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – It’s coming up on six years since Apple announced its groundbreaking digital-payments service, Apple Pay. And while consumer adoption remains a work in progress, Apple has had considerable success gaining participation from banks and other issuers in what is now more than 50 countries worldwide.

Transit Agency in Canada Plans to Launch Mobile Ticketing, Citing Covid Fears

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Another transit agency in Canada has announced it will enable mobile ticketing, along with reloadable contactless cards, citing in part the Covid-19 pandemic and the desire to reduce the use of cash, vending machines and customer interaction with agency staff.

Biggest U.S. Supermarket Chain Trials Contactless as Covid-19 Fears Increase Demand for ‘No-Touch Payments’

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The announcement by The Kroger Co., the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., that it has begun trialing contactless payments in a subsidiary indicates that one of the last major holdouts among big U.S. merchants will eventually accept such NFC payments services as Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as contactless bank cards.

Southern California Transit Agency to Sell Tickets Via Google Maps and Google Pay; Others Expected to Follow

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – There’s more evidence that popular trip-planning apps Transit, Moovit and Google Maps are seeking to expand further into mobile ticketin

Insight: Apple Buys Mobile-POS Firm as It Seeks to Expand Acceptance of Contactless Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – In a move seeking to expand the base of merchants that can accept its payments service, Apple Pay, Apple has reportedly acquired Montreal, Canada-based mobile POS company Mobeewave, which could enable small shop owners, restaurants and street vendors, among others, to more easily accept contactless EMV cards and NFC mobile wallets.