Isis says carrier-backed mobile payments 'accelerated,' not 'dialling back'

The mobile commerce joint venture Isis has been working for months to engage Visa, MasterCard and other major U.S. banks in smartphone payments with near field communication (NFC) technology, an Isis marketing executive clarified late Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported early Wednesday that Isis had dropped its plans for its own system, in which carriers collect payments made by smartphone in exchange for a system open to Visa and others. The Isis joint venture includes AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA.

However, Isis Marketing chief Jaymee Johnson told Computerworld that Isis had formally announced in a that it was opening its infrastructure to "all merchants, banks, payment networks and carriers."

Johnson argued that the Journal story, widely reported by other media , was "profoundly incorrect," because Isis had already announced it was "opening up the platform to all payment networks and platforms."

But analysts said Johnson's concerns about the report were overblown, even if the article was late, because Isis was clearly planning to work with Barclaybank US and Discover Financial Services when it was conceived last year.

Perhaps Isis had planned to draw in large credit card companies like Visa all along but started small, several analysts said. "This Wall Street Journal account is a matter of semantics," said Bob Egan, an analyst at The Sepharim Group. "[That] we're not any closer to mobile payments in the U.S. is the main point."