Three of the nation’s largest mobile carriers are finally preparing to bring Isis, their smartphone-based digital payment solution, to locations across the country.
In a press release early this morning, Isis announced that after a successful pilot program that began in Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah, the company would finally make their NFC-based Isis payment system available nation-wide. According to the group, it’ll begin the expansion later this year. Isis is a joint venture between Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.
Isis uses the Near Field Communications chip in most high-end smartphones to allow users to pay for their purchases without opening up their wallet. Users only need to unlock their smartphone and then slide their it across an NFC equipped reader to electronically pay at restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Isis user’s payment information is actually stored on their smartphones SIM card, a tiny wafer-thin chip that sits at the heart of most smartphones sold inside and outside of the United States.
The technology isn’t all that dissimilar from what Google Wallet does for users already. Unfortunately, Google Wallet’s growth has mostly stalled as the companies involved in creating Isis have blocked the solution on the devices they sell to consumers.
According to Isis, 20 million smartphones already have NFC built into their devices, making a roll-out reasonably simple. Isis will release mobile applications for iPhone, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 devices this year. NFC is already built into the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, Nokia Lumia 920 and most mid-range smartphones.
There’s already a version of the application for Android users. As each of these platforms already have wireless payment options and deal finders built-in, it’s not clear how Isis will integrate with each operating system.
It’s also interesting that Isis will be rolling out to the iPhone. As of today, no iPhone has ever included any sort of NFC technology. Instead, the company’s Passbook application simply relies on users entering their gift cards. To date, there have been no solid rumors indicating that the iPhone 5S, what’s expected to be Apple’s latest flagship device, will include NFC technology.