Isis mobile payment venture to launch next month

That's according to the CEO of Verifone, who makes payment systems for merchants and is bullish about its prospects.

Google Wallet will have some competition in a few weeks. Roger Cheng/CNET

ISIS, a joint venture between the wireless carriers to usher in a mobile-payment system, is poised to launch in two trial markets in September.

That's according to Doug Bergeron, CEO of Verifone, which makes the payment terminals that most mobile-payment systems rely on. Bergeron confirmed the month to CNET, although he declined to provide a specific date. Bloomberg earlier reported on ISIS' launch time.

Bergeron was optimistic about the prospects for ISIS.

"With the carriers on their side, they stand to have a very good chance to succeed provide the handset makers get NFC-enabled smartphones out as promised," he told CNET.

That ISIS is launching next month isn't a huge shocker. The venture had a target of launching by the end of summer, which concludes in September. CNET contacted an ISIS representative for comment, and we'll update the story when we get a response. An ISIS executive had previously reiterated the end-of-summer goal in an interview with CNET.

"We are in the final phases of testing," said Jaymee Johnson, head of marketing for Isis in an interview last week.

ISIS, which is run by Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile USA, has plans to build out a system where consumers can use their smartphones to pay for goods and services. By using a technology called near-field communication, or NFC, consumers can simply tap a special sensor at the register to transfer funds. It's the same technology used by Google, which had a splashy launch more than a year ago, but has seen just minimal adoption.

ISIS plans to launch in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Austin, Texas -- test markets that will prove to the carriers and its partners that the system can work. Rather than attempt to take a cut of each transaction or, as Google is doing, using the information to deliver targeted ads and deals, ISIS will work as a neutral platform for other companies. The venture will essentially charge a service fee for the use of its network, which works with all of the major credit cards.

The carriers and their huge networks of stores give ISIS an advantage, Bergeron said. Mobile payments are relatively new and unknown to consumers, and having in-store training would be key to increasing the comfort level of the service. The carriers can also push to get more NFC-enabled smartphones. Newer BlackBerrys and Samsung's Galaxy S III are among the NFC-enabled phones in the market, although the iPhone has yet to get the capability .

Marguerite Reardon contributed to this story.

 

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