Last week it was credit card issuers, this week it's point of sale vendors. Isis, the mobile payment joint venture between AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, announced that major POS vendors VeriFone, Ingenico, ViVOtech and Equinox Payments will integrate and support the Isis Mobile Commerce Application in all current and future product lines.
The news follows the announcement last week that three major credit card issuers — Chase, Cap One and BarclayCard — will enable their cards on the Isis mobile wallet.
Today's news is more symbolic than substantive. The four POS companies have already committed to providing near field communications support on their terminals. NFC technologies adhere to an international standard, and the flavor of NFC that supports any competitive mobile wallet will support Isis' product.
But today's announcement does show that Isis is slowly making all the necessary connections to bring a mobile contactless payment method to market. There are a lot of hand-offs required to make even regular credit card payment work in a matter of seconds, and support from POS manufacturers is the last step between a customer's phone and a merchant's systems.
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Support for Isis on the vendors' terminals will come about through a combination of methods, Isis said in its announcement. Merchants will have a variety of options from new terminals to NFC add-on devices to remote software upgrades for devices that are already deployed. This gives merchants flexibility in how they upgrade to Isis-enabled POS terminals, the company said.
And Isis said the news is a victory for the open standards it supports, meaning any player from one end of the transaction to the other can participate.
"Payment systems suppliers provide critical infrastructure for the development of mobile commerce," said Isis CTO Scott Mulloy in the announcement. "Today's announcement is an important step in enabling NFC technology adoption throughout the mobile commerce industry. It also validates the open platform approach being offered by Isis across multiple business sectors."
For their part, the partners in today's announcement are taking the opportunity to reinforce their general support for open standards and NFC for payments and services at the point of sale.
"VeriFone retail customers are already embracing the convergence of online shopping and the physical point of sale with new mobile payment options, digital couponing, loyalty, location-based social media and value-added services," said VeriFone EVP Jennifer Miles in a statement. "NFC-enabled payments allow merchants to engage their shoppers in new and powerful conversations, and Isis' open platform and scale are helping make mobile commerce a reality."
"We're approaching a tipping point in the mass adoption of mobile commerce, as new smartphones arrive NFC-enabled," said Mick Mullagh, CEO of ViVOtech. He added that bringing the industry together behind a common set of technology standards and platforms is a crucial step toward igniting the mobile economy.
The news comes ahead of Isis' big marketing push this week at the SXSW Interactive conference. Isis is a major sponsor of the event, an annual gathering in Austin, Texas focused on emerging technologies. The event this year runs from March 9–13. Along with Salt Lake City, Austin also happens to be one of two cities where Isis will be running a pilot program of its mobile wallet later this year.
For more stories like this, visit the Contactless/NFC research center.