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Isis Mobile Wallet goes live nationwide, offers freebies

Wave phone, buy stuff: after a long period of trials, the joint venture teaming Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile is finally broadly available.

Isis Mobile Wallet at work.

The wireless carriers' mobile payment initiative, Isis Mobile Wallet, is finally going live nationwide, delivering another way for consumers to use their phones to pay for goods and services.

It's been a long time coming for Isis, which went through the work of lining up partners, building a mobile-payment platform, and going through trials over the last few years. The Isis Mobile Wallet is available for select Isis-compatible smartphones -- notably not the iPhone -- and comes with a few financial incentives to get users on board.

Isis, jointly run by Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile, is just one of many companies striving to serve as the digital wallet for consumers, following in the footsteps of Google Wallet and PayPal, among others. Like Google Wallet, Isis employs a technology called near-field communication, or NFC, which enables customers to wave their phone at special cash registers to pay for a soda or cab ride. The business is attractive because of the opportunity to have a presence in a consumer's wallet.

The idea of a digital wallet contained in a smartphone has been around for a while, although the implementation has lacked broad consumer interest. Apple's reluctance to integrate NFC in its iPhones adds another wrinkle. An Isis representative said that iPhone support would come at a later time.

To help spur adoption, Isis is touting several incentives. Isis Mobile Wallet customers can use My Coke Rewards and Isis to get three free drinks at select vending machines, while Jamba Juice is giving away 1 million free smoothies to Isis users. Purchases made from an American Express Serve account through the Isis wallet are eligible for a 20 percent discount (up to $200).

Interested customers will have to get an enhanced SIM card to run Isis. They will also have to download the app on Google Play or get signed up at retail stores run by the three carriers.