ISIS consortium delays launch of NFC-based mobile payments in Salt Lake City and Austin

Launch was slated for end of summer; update on progress due early next month

ISIS, a consortium of three wireless carriers, said Thursday that it will not launch its Near-Field Communication-based mobile payment service in Salt Lake City or Austin, Texas by the end of the summer as earlier planned.

"We are still wrapping things up..., working on a few final items," Jaymee Johnson, head of marketing for ISIS, said in a telephone interview. Summer ends this year on Sept. 22, and ISIS is not going to meet its goal to come to market in both cities, he said.

ISIS plans to provide an update in early October on the date of its launch, Johnson said. The three carriers -- Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA -- are still completely committed to the project, as are banks and other partners, he said.

"There's no implications of problems with partner support or the ecosystem, and we continue to meet on a regular basis," Johnson said. "We have overwhelming support by the ecosystem, banks, and providers of points-of-sale terminals. Support could not be stronger."

ISIS will rely on NFC chips inside smartphones to allow users to make payments by transferring funds stored on digital credit cards on their phones via a touch or near-touch over a wireless network to an NFC receiving terminal. Google Wallet, available for about a year, uses similar technology.

Despite anticipation that Apple might launch its iPhone 5 on Wednesday with NFC, it did not; instead, it showed its Passbook mobile payment software working over traditional barcode scanning technology to transfer data.

Johnson said ISIS still solidly supports NFC technology, noting that it is "the most scalable and secure means of doing mobile payment, and has been deployed globally for over a decade."

Rick Oglesby, an analyst at Aite Group, said the delay in the ISIS launch was not related to the NFC technology, as much as with ISIS working with a diverse array of partners about how to monetize the service. "ISIS is trying to work with a whole lot of partners on monetization efforts," he said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile payments in Computerworld's Mobile Payments Topic Center.

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