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Isis mobile-payment group lines up handset backers

The joint venture between AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile has rounded up most of the handset makers to use its technology standards. The key missing player: Apple.

The Nexus S is one of the first smartphones to have NFC, which enables mobile payments in stores. But it's being used by Google as its flagship device for its own payment system. Josh Miller/CNET

The mobile-payments joint venture between three of the national wireless carriers has gotten the support of nearly all of the major handset manufacturers in its bid to enable consumers to make purchases by waving their phones.

Isis--which is made up of AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile USA--said today that HTC, LG Electronics, Motorola Mobility, Research In Motion, Samsung Electronics, and Sony Ericsson will ship devices using the joint venture's technology standard for near-field communication, which enables the tap-and-go payment capability. The alliance, however, is missing a key player in Apple.

A spokesman for Isis said the venture was only announcing these partners at this time, and declined to comment on Apple.

"Working together with the device makers and our founding mobile carriers, Isis can provide the consumer choice and scale necessary for widespread adoption of mobile commerce," Isis Chief Technology Officer Scott Mulloy said in a statement today.

It's not a huge surprise that the handset manufacturers, who regularly work with the carriers and count them as their largest customers, would throw their support behind Isis. The joint venture is also working with DeviceFidelity, which has created a NFC-enabled memory card that can be slipped into phones that don't already have the technology built in.

Isis is just one of many groups scrambling to take advantage of the revenue potential that comes from enabling payments on the phone. Beyond the belief that contactless payments drive more transactions, the companies want to be involved in the burgeoning business of sending relevant coupons and advertisements to people based on their location and purchases.

Related stories:
• Google unveils mobile payments, coupon service
• The major players in mobile payments
• Visa vs. Google Wallet in mobile payments
• AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile to pump cash into Isis venture

Isis plans to start its trials next year. It's behind Google, which has slowly rolled out its own Google Wallet payment system, using Sprint Nextel's Nexus S as its flagship phone. The adoption, however, is limited because the system currently works with one phone and specific payment terminals that are NFC-enabled.

Visa, meanwhile, has its own plans for a digital wallet, which stores credit, debit, and loyalty cards and rewards information in one application.

Isis has been working to line up all of the right partners before proceeding. In July, it was the first to strike a deal with all four major credit card issuers.