updated 03:05 pm EDT, Tue July 19, 2011
Isis lands four major credit card firms
Isis on Tuesday said it had landed the top four credit card companies in the US for its mobile payment plans. American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa have all agreed to handle payments from NFC-based phones when the service goes live in the first six months of 2012. The approach may give it at least a temporary edge over Google Wallet, which is so far limited to MasterCard.
The Isis system has the official backings of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, and is intended as a more universal approach to mobile payments in the US that isn't linked closely to any one carrier or device. Getting the top four credit cards may help the initiative by reassuring stores that nearly all their customers will have the option of using their phones to make payments.
The group still has uncertain prospects hinging around phone support. Google's NFC system in Android isn't locked to Google Wallet and should work, but Isis has yet to enlist a definitive set of supporters. RIM is a strong candidate through BlackBerry 7 phones such as the Bold 9900. Apple's next iPhone may or may not get NFC and could help tip the balance.
Sprint is the only major US carrier holding out on Isis. Why isn't known, and Google Wallet isn't likely the only factor since it should eventually reach other carriers.