Reuters reports that ISIS, one of many NFC-based mobile payment initiatives in the US has once again delayed the launch of its long planned NFC-based mobile payment, this time to October from its originally planned first half rollout due to unforeseen issues, with the additional delay following Apple’s forthcoming rollout of its own mobile payment management service in Passbook.
The Trouble with Mobile Payment Adoption in the US
Mobile payment systems in the US have had a rather lukewarm reception in the US, even with multiple initiatives put forth by carriers in the US. Sprint started the trend first by partnering with Google for the ultimately stillborn Google Wallet service, a service that has seen very little in the way of success since launching in Winter 2010 as the first mover in the US mobile payment space with the Samsung Nexus S 4G.
It was expected that Google Wallet would have seen adoption by more carriers as time went on, but Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T had other ideas in late 2010. Even with Google backing the Wallet service, the rest of the national carriers decided forming their own service would have been more appropriate in lieu of adopting yet another Google-powered service in order to draw new customers in. Verizon even took the step of developing its version of the Galaxy Nexus last year before release and as a result, actively blocks Google Wallet from functioning on its variant of the current Google Android flagship, all in the name of developing ISIS with the other carriers and preparing for its launch.
What ISIS Was Supposed to Be
Ever since the initial announcement of ISIS in late 2010, there have always been more questions than concrete answers regarding the end goals for the mobile payment service. With three of the most competitive carriers apparently working together on the initiative and two going through a failed merger and acquisition, it was expected that the mobile payment service would have seen a series of short-term trials in select markets last year before a full nationwide rollout which was expected by the beginning of this year. So far, with the continual delays, the previously announced trial markets have yet to launch and partners have yet to be assured that the service will go anywhere past the trial periods, which new announcements are now set for October.
More Promises, More Delays?
At this point, the two trial markets in Salt Lake City, Utah and Austin, Texas are set to launch trials with ISIS PR proclaiming that hundreds of launch partners will be ready when the initiative does indeed rollout, though when that is is anyone’s guess and ISIS along with its credit card partners aren’t talking anything else outside of its future plans, either. The representative for ISIS is stating to the media that the current issues affecting the launch are concerning last-minute agreements, though the refusal to comment directly on the delays is disconcerting and adds more questions.
With the added delays, it’s now a matter of the service being able to grab attention with the help of carriers, though with two of the carriers involved in AT&T and Verizon carrying the iPhone 5, which will not support NFC capability at all and instead utilize its own mobile payments and loyalty program management service in the aforementioned PassBook, the possibility of both carriers actively promoting the service is slim to none, with a high possibility that T-Mobile will be the one left picking up the slack on that front owing to the fact that it carries the NFC capable Samsung Galaxy S III along with AT&T and Verizon and was once again left out of carrying the iPhone.
The forthcoming October announcement will hopefully shed more light on what the initiative will consist of, but the delays have realistically done more harm than good. The only way for ISIS to recover at this point would be to make as big a splash as possible, but that possibility grows more remote by the day. Should ISIS launch its test markets and fail to achieve its goals, which all signs point to, it won’t be due to competitors getting the jump, but the backing members failing to properly manage the initiative between themselves.