Mobile payment solutions are as scattered as they are hard to use. Google has Wallet, which hasn't found much footing. There are various card readers like Square, but those still require a card to swipe. Then there’s Isis, the mobile payment solution from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. That service was set to launch by the end of the year, and it looks like the launch is coming soon.
Said to be out in a few weeks’ time, Isis is a lot like Google Wallet: NFC enabled phones can simply tap on a terminal set up to receive payments, and the money is transferred from your account just like a credit card. Isis notes that once launched, subscribers will have access to about 1.3 million payment stations worldwide, and "24 of the top 100 retailers" are on board.
While Isis has some strong support from carriers and payment clearing houses like Chase and American Express, bigger names like Capital One and Barclay will not be on board. There is also the Merchant Consumer Exchange, which is a payment system being developed with the support of retailers like Walmart and Target, to complicate the mobile payment space.
Though Isis has the support of carriers -- which is a large reason Google Wallet has trouble catching on -- it’s far from the only competition in the mobile payment realm. With mobile payment conglomerates drawing lines in the sand, and many major banks offering their own system, the space is crowded and expanding.
Couple that with the shrugged-shoulder response to Isis, and you have a problem. “The new ISIS app looks nice, but doesn't seem much different than my current Google Wallet experience” said Alex Linebrink, CEO of payment solutions company Core Merchant. His feedback was made after a recent presentation by Isis CEO Michael Abbott, which was reportedly rife with glitches.
Though Isis has the support of carriers, and promises widespread support from vendors, there hasn't yet been a mobile payment solution that has us leaving the plastic at home. If Isis can change that, we’ll be surprised.