Isis, a joint venture between AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, is gaining momentum with the announcement this week that Visa, MasterCard and American Express have joined as partners. This makes Isis the only virtual wallet to offer all four major credit card networks. Discover has been supported since the start.
While Isis is not scheduled for launch until 2012 — with trials in Salt Lake City, UT and Austin, TX — partnering with these four major networks gives them a competitive edge against Google Wallet. Google Wallet — currently with limited availability in New York City and San Francisco — supports payments from Citi, MasterCard and First Data on a platform supported by Sprint.
With the new announcement of partners, Isis’ virtual wallet puts mobile technology one step closer to offering mobile wallets and making mobile commerce a reality for millions of consumers and merchants. “By working with the nation’s payment networks — Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express — we significantly advance the vision of an open and secure platform that provides banks and merchants with a new and highly relevant way to connect with consumers,” says Michael Abbott, chief executive officer for Isis.
Partnering with credit cards is a step in the right direction, but there are many additional hurdles faced by Isis in setting up a functioning, mobile e-commerce system. Additional hurdles for virtual wallets, Isis and otherwise, include mobile phones enabled with NFC technology, merchants, payment terminals and consumers to buy into the idea.
As Smartphone users continue to increase, the idea of having a virtual wallet is intriguing and a great possibility for the future. Personally, I would be delighted to be able to walk out my door without a wallet or purse — just my phone and keys. Now, if only my driver’s license could be digital.