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Isis sets record straight, debunks Wall Street Journal article

May 5, 2011

Isis will support NFC payments via its mobile commerce network

A Wall Street Journal article regarding Isis, the joint venture by Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile, has stirred up a lot of buzz around the industry. However, Isis claims that the Journal article is profoundly inaccurate.

Contrary to what WSJ is reporting, Isis claims it will still be focused on building a mobile commerce network supported by NFC-enabled payments and a mobile wallet, like it initially announced in November. Some news reports have gone as far as to say that the carriers have pulled out of Isis altogether. Isis has confirmed this is not true.

“The tone and some of the points in the Journal article were profoundly inaccurate,” said Jaymee Johnson, spokesman for Isis, New York. “To roll back the clock a little, in order for mcommerce to work, it takes an incredible amount of alignment from the mobile, financial and merchant industries.

“We took the initial strategy of fewer partners to see if we can bring those forces into alignment,” he said. “And last year in November, when Mike Abbott came on as CEO, there were some profound changes in regulation around how payments are priced to a consumer.

“But, more importantly, as we spoke to the merchant community, banks and payment networks there was a lot of interest in working with Isis. So now, our initial strategy with working with fewer has accelerated to working with more.”

Setting the record straight
The news is that Isis is now going from one payment network to many networks and from one issuer to many issuers.

The reason for the change of heart is to get to market much faster, with more scale, Isis claims.

“The bottom line is Isis is now open to more partners to build the mpayments industry and is igniting a one ecosystem factor,” Mr. Johnson said.

From the very beginning Isis was focused on building a mobile commerce network (see story).

The network will still be focused on mobile payments via NFC, but the mobile wallet will also be a key part of the operability. Banks will be able to get consumers’ credit cards onto the mobile device.

Additionally, Isis is going to build in some opportunities for merchants to be able to target consumers with relevant offers and deals based on past purchases.

News media sources have been saying that AT&T and Verizon are already in talks with MasterCard and Visa to join the Isis mobile commerce ecosystem.

“We can’t talk about the particular partners yet,” Mr. Johnson said. “What I can say is that we are open and actively looking for networks and banks and are in discussions with multiple parties.

“When we have the names to share, we will do so,” he said.

As we can see some of the news reports were very misleading.

Fueling mpayment success
Isis’ announcement of opening the doors to many partners will surely fuel its success in building a mobile commerce ecosystem.

The network will likely have greater reach, especially if the big dogs – Visa and MasterCard – jump on board.

“Supporting MasterCard and Visa was always part of the Isis strategy because those brands are essential to its success with consumers, as Drew Silver correctly pointed out in [yesterday’s] WSJ article,” said David W. Schropfer, author of The Smartphone Wallet and an analyst with The Luciano Group, Red Bank, NJ.

“To succeed with retailers, Isis will leverage its existing relationship with Discover, and a developing relationship with VeriFone,” he said. “Between Discover and VeriFone, Isis will reach up to half of all retailers in the United States, and almost every major retailer.

“Finally, the Salt Lake City test which launches later this year will be used to wow retailers by showcasing value–added merchant services like loyalty programs, tender steering features, and unprecedented security.”

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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