Carriers creating Isis mobile payment network

AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile join forces to build a commerce network designed to let people more easily buy items via cell phones.

AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile are creating a mobile payment network designed to help consumers more easily pay for items at stores using their cell phones, the trio announced today.


The three mobile companies are building the network, known as Isis, with the initial goal of setting up a mobile payment system in which people can use cell phones to pay for items directly at a retailer, known as point-of-sale purchases.

The system will use a technology called near-field communication (NFC), which provides short-range and encrypted wireless communication between different devices. The companies said the system will include strong security and privacy protection.

The new mobile payment service is expected to roll out over the next 18 months.

No doubt not coincidentally, Google CEO Eric Schmidt showed off an upcoming Android phone with a near-field communication chip yesterday, perhaps the Nexus S.

Isis has already tapped two major financial players to join the effort. Discover Financial Services will work with Isis to develop the overall infrastructure for the mobile payment network, while Barclaycard US, part of Barclays, will be the first credit issuer on the network. Meanwhile, Isis is leaving the door open to other banks, financial institutions, and wireless carriers that want to be part of the new venture.

Former GE Capital executive Michael Abbott has been hired as Isis CEO. Beyond the initial work that Isis is planning, Abbott has lofty goals for the system.

"Our mobile commerce network, through relationships with merchants, will provide an enhanced, more convenient, more personalized shopping experience for consumers," Abbott said in a statement. "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."