By Vivian Wagner
Vivian Wagner is a freelance writer in New Concord, Ohio. Vivian blogs via Contently.com.
It’s become all the buzz in the mobile payments world: Isis. But what is it? And how did it get where it is today?
Rumors first started flying about a joint venture between
AT&T Mobility, T Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless to create a nationwide
mobile payment infrastructure back in August, 2010.
No specifics were yet
available, and no one knew what this venture would be called or how it would
work, but that didn’t stop bloggers and reporters from speculating about what
it would mean for the industry. And universally, they thought it would shake
The official announcement of the venture – and its name,
Isis – came on Nov. 16, 2010. At that time, the company also revealed that
Michael Abbott, who had previously worked for GE Capital, would be named CEO.
Over the next few months, Isis executives traveled the country to speak
at conferences, conventions, and summits about the company’s mobile payment
On April 6, 2011, Isis
announced that Salt Lake City would be one of its first trial markets, and that
it would be working with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) to allow payments for
public transportation using mobile devices. By June, Austin, Texas had been added to the list of early
On July 19, 2011, a partnership was announced between Isis,
Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. “Since the formation of Isis
in November, we have been committed to building a mobile commerce platform that
aligns and advances the interests of consumers, merchants and banks,” Abbott
was quoted as saying in the press release. “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
Selling the Public
In August, 2011, Isis ramped up its public relations,
releasing a brochure explaining how the Isis Mobile Wallet would allow consumers to make payments, use loyalty cards,
and redeem coupons.
In late September, 2011, Isis made another big
announcement: HTC, LG, Motorola
Mobility, RIM, Samsung Mobile and Sony Ericsson would introduce NFC-enabled
mobile devices implementing Isis’ NFC and technology standards.
“Isis’ technology standards provide the
direction and certainty needed for the development and deployment of NFC
devices and the mobile commerce ecosystem,” the company’s chief technology
officer, Scott Mulloy, said in a press release. “Working together with the
device makers and our founding mobile carriers, Isis can provide the consumer
choice and scale necessary for widespread adoption of mobile commerce.”
There you have it: a brief history of the company that promises to change the payments world forever. Thanks to Isis, 2012 promises to be the year when a wallet filled with credit cards will become, finally, a thing of the past.