Ready For The Mobile Wallet? Insights Into How ISIS™ Intends to Transform the Retail/Hospitality Landscape

By John Pruban, President, tekservePOS

I have recently discussed the speculation over how Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology could, quite possibly, transform the future of the retail/hospitality space. A lot of that speculation comes on the heels of the November 2010 announcement of a joint venture between AT&T mobility, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile to create Isis, a nationwide mobile commerce network which will utilize NFC technology to enable “an enhanced, more convenient, and more personal shopping experience.”

In our ongoing effort to stay on top of the latest developments around NFC technology and its potential impact on mobile commerce, tekservePOS will be attending the local Bricks & Mobile event on March 30, 2011, headed up by the folks at Remodista (short for Retail and Mobility Distilled). Among the many industry thought leaders slated to speak on the current trends in mobile payments is Jim Stapleton, Chief Sales Officer for Isis. 


In advance of the event, I had the opportunity to be part of a discussion with Stapleton and get some specifics of the Isis launch. Aside from being a solution for big box retailers, Stapleton said that there has been an active response from merchant acquirers as well, which could mean that Isis will someday be accepted in higher transaction verticals, such as the local laundromat.

From a consumer perspective, having access to a mobile commerce network on the broader utility base that Isis expects to deliver in Q1 2012, could mean a more flexible, and unified experience. Stapleton predicted the unique multi-tenant platform will set Isis apart from other NFC trials and solutions that are currently in the marketplace.

A Flexible And Convenient Mobile Wallet For Consumers
Another factor that Stapleton suggested will usher in rapid adoption of the Isis platform is the flexibility and convenience of the “mobile wallet” concept that the launch promises to deliver to consumers. With the option to choose among a variety of closed- and open-loop virtual payment cards at the point of sale, Stapleton said that Isis endeavors to create a consistent and unified experience for consumers across retailers, carriers and issuers.

But what does this mean for retailers? Well, according to Stapleton, one of the many benefits of participating in the Isis network is the ability to leverage an open, shared platform, which has the potential to alleviate the need to continually recreate investments. The platform is also expected to provide many benefits for the smaller and mid-sized retailers who want to avoid the “heavy lifting” that comes with app development.

Without the need to create a variety of independent tender types, generate a new set of operating rules around disputes, settlements, etc., Stapleton explained that Isis will bear the responsibility for “95% of what the retailer knows and needs to do.” Isis is also expected to absorb the consumer side of a “mobile wallet” technology and ensure open standards are in place across the payment eco-system, enabling retailers to foster a deeper mobile relationship with their consumers.

Addressing Security Concerns
In regards to concerns for security breaches, Stapleton said that, in many ways, the Isis “mobile wallet” will prove to be safer than your standard leather one. Through the use of connected hardware devices, an NFC antenna will be activated upon entry of a consumer passcode to ensure a secure payment transaction — much like the way debit cards are used today. And, in the event a consumer loses their phone, one call to the carrier will immediately disable the handset, as well as the Isis account — negating the need for the consumer to remember what cards they were carrying or the series of 1-800 numbers to cancel them.

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