Isis mobile wallet approach wins backers outside USA

Isis mobile wallet approach wins backers outside US

25 FEB 2014

LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2014: International retailers gathered at the Mobile World Congress have voiced enthusiasm for the type of mobile wallet service being developed in the US by Isis, which has been plagued by negative publicity since coming into existence in 2010.

A joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile US and Verizon Wireless, Isis eventually launched its NFC-based mobile wallet service in November, after missing previous targets, and now faces a number of rivals, including Google Wallet.

But the Isis model received a boost in Barcelona during Tuesday morning’s keynote session, with major retailers from Spain and India indicating that it could be replicated in other countries.

“We would welcome Isis at any time,” said Ajit Joshi, CEO of India’s Infiniti Retail, a part of the Tata Group empire. “A solution like this is music to our ears.”

Ana Maria Llopis, CEO of Spain’s Dia Supermarkets – which generated revenues of more than $15 billion last year – echoed that sentiment, describing the Isis partnership approach to mobile wallet services as the “right one”.

Commentators have continually questioned the level of retail support for Isis;  the Merchant Customer Exchange, a joint venture involving big-name brands like Target and Walmart, is developing an alternative mobile payments system that does not use NFC.

Isis has previously said that 24 of the top 100 US merchants are using its payment terminals, but has not provided a recent update on take-up.

Although Infiniti and Dia are not US players, both have been exploring the use of mobile technology to support retail activities, and their praise for Isis holds out the prospect of a cross-border service taking shape in the future.

“The consumer experience is universal and I think these ventures need to emerge globally,” said Michael Abbott, the CEO of Isis.

Nevertheless, Abbott acknowledged the difficulty he has had in building alliances. “It’s been hard work over three years to get to where we are today,” he said. “This needs to be driven by CEOs, not business development teams.”

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