People who have a Chase Freedom, Sapphire, Slate or JPMorgan Palladium card in their actual wallet will be able to load that card onto their virtual wallet once Isis is available nationwide. American Express Serve account holders will also be able to use their prepaid cards through their mobile phones. In fact, Isis will come with Serve already integratedmaking it easy for customers to sign up for a Serve account if they don’t have one.
Isis has done pilot trials in Texas and Utah and doesn’t have a firm date for its national rollout, but it is expected to happen before the end of 2013. Jointly owned by AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, Isis will run on near-field communication technology, known as NFC. The challenge that NFC has, is that in order for customers to use the Isis mobile wallet, merchants must have NFC-capable point-of-sale systems.
Isis wallet users must also have NFC-capable phones, something that is not yet true of the iPhone. The latest iPhones, announced just this month, will not have NFC technology. Windows phones, Blackberry devices and Android phones do all support NFC.
Google Wallet, the major competitor of Isis, can be used without NFC, which some industry experts believe give it an edge. However, even without NFC, Isis can be used for more than just payments. People can load their customer loyalty cards to Isis and use it to take advantage of discounts and other coupon programs.
People who are tired of carrying their actual wallets around in order to pay for goods and services eagerly await mobile wallets. Studies have shown that most prefer to leave wallets behind when they are at the gym, the beach and the pub. If merchants and mobile phone manufacturers are able to embrace NFC technology, a future where people don’t have to worry about remembering to bring their wallet with them when they go out, could be within reach.
Capital One had been set to join Isis earlier this year, but recently pulled out, saying that although they were pulling the plug on the current deal, they would “continue to engage with Isis on the future of mobile payments.”
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