Mobile providers form new digital wallet venture

AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile announce the Isis e-commerce network

Three of the four largest mobile phone carriers in the U.S. have formed a joint venture to turn phones into digital wallets, allowing subscribers to pay for groceries and other retail items using their phones, instead of credit cards or other methods.

AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA, with a combined 220 million U.S. customers, announced Tuesday that they have formed the Isis mobile commerce network, with service expected to roll out in some markets within 18 months. The network, based on open standards, will welcome any mobile carriers, banks and retail outlets that want to join, said Michael Abbott, Isis' CEO.

The goal of the new service is to "fundamentally transform" the way people shop and pay for items, said Abbott, a former chief marketing officer at GE Capital. Instead of fumbling for a credit card, coupons and loyalty card at a grocery store, a customer will be able to swipe their mobile phone to deliver all that information, he said. In return, stores can deliver coupons back to customers.

"We're painting a vision of the future; we're pulling this together," Abbott said. "It's all about simplifying the consumer's life."

Barclaycard US has signed on to issue credit accounts through Isis.

Isis will use (NFC) near-field communication technology, which allows wireless data exchange within about 4 inches of a phone and reader. NFC has been around since 2003, with the NFC Forum announced in March 2004, but the technology has been slow to catch on in the U.S.

The backing from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile will give the technology a critical mass that will encourage retailers to purchase NFC readers, Abbott said. The partnership "brings the scale the industry needs to drive the investment going forward," he said.

Several retailers have already signed on to Isis, although the names are not yet available, Abbott said.

In addition, Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced Monday that the next version of its Android mobile OS will support NFC, and Nokia has announced plans to integrate the technology into a number of its Symbian-based smartphones in 2011.

Apple also hired NFC expert Benjamin Vigier in August.

Asked about security of NFC, Abbott said it's "inherently" easier to secure private data on a phone than on a credit card. "It's locked down with a password and the number is encrypted inside the phone," he said. "It's not sitting out in raised numbers on a piece of plastic. Even beyond that, one call shuts [the Isis service] all down, and one call can restore it."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Benjamin Vigiertelecommunicatione-commerceBarclaycard USmobileT-Mobile USAinternetVerizon WirelessAppleGoogleat&tGE CapitalMichael AbbottNokiaeric schmidt

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?