AT&T, Other ISIS Partners Eye Mobile Payments Overseas

Posted by: Rachael King on December 14, 2011

By Olga Kharif

A joint venture of AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless wants to bring its mobile-payment technology to markets outside the U.S., as companies try to grab a piece of the fast-growing digital wallet business.

The venture, ISIS, has held discussions to explore international opportunities, said Jaymee Johnson, a spokesman. He declined to name prospective partners, who could choose to use ISIS’s brand or its technology.

ISIS is competing with Google Inc. and other consortiums and startups in the mobile payments arena. Their goal: To allow consumers to use their phones to make credit- or debit-card purchases in stores. The worldwide market is expected to reach $670 billion in total transactions by 2015, up from $240 billion this year, according to Juniper Research.

“The underlying equity partners in ISIS give us some degree of visibility and awareness beyond the U.S.,” Johnson said in an interview. One of Verizon Wireless’s two parent companies is Vodafone Group Plc, based in the U.K., while T-Mobile USA is owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG.

ISIS is playing catch-up with Google in the U.S. The company’s Google Wallet service launched in September, while ISIS’s effort will start in two cities in mid-2012. Google’s service has recently run into problems: Verizon Wireless blocked it from the new Galaxy Nexus smartphone, citing security concerns.

Industry support for ISIS is growing. This week, the venture announced that Gemalto NV will be one of its technology providers in the U.S. The company is the world’s biggest maker of smart cards, which contain embedded memory chips used to carry out various functions such as access control and payment transactions.

ISIS has also announced agreements with payment networks including Visa Inc. and handset makers including Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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