Any smartphone user of a device like the iPhone or an Android smartphone knows that there really is an app for just about everything. Paying for products and services with a mobile device is common in some countries but in the US, we rarely have that option. Some think it would be very convenient to be able to pay for things with their mobile device rather than having to pull out a credit card or wallet.
There are a few apps that will let you pay for things with a participating businesses using your phone, but those apps involve loading money into a third-party account and scanning a bar code at checkout. Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and AT&T have all teamed up to form a joint venture called Isis. The goal of Isis is to bring a new mobile payment infrastructure to the US. This infrastructure will include a back end processing system along with mobile devices that use NFC technology allowing contactless payments. The NFC tech would be tied to a normal credit card apparently.
It's unclear if the user will be able to eventually tie existing debit or credit cards to the device using the NFC tech or only specific credit cards issued by a bank would work with the Isis system. The first card issuer to use the Isis tech will be Barclaycard US. Isis expects to have the tech on the market in 18 months. The back end processing system will be the Discover Financial Services payment network.
"Our mobile commerce network, through relationships with merchants, will provide an enhanced, more convenient, more personalized shopping experience for consumers," said Michael Abbott, Chief Executive Officer of Isis. "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."
This system could be very useful if it is widely adopted by banks and retailers. We could walk into a store and put our mobile phone near the credit card terminal to pay rather than having to pull out our wallets and hand over credit cards. This seems like a good idea, assuming the "strong encryption and privacy" controls the network and NFC tech uses are up to the task.