After months of delays, the currently ongoing Isis mobile payment trial will be expanded nationwide later this year. The mobile payment system was initially set to launch nationwide earlier this year in the Spring, but faced unexplained delays. Isis is backed by a consortium of carriers in AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile and relies on dual-factor authentication hardware in a SIM+NFC configuration with 25 of the top 100 retailers signing on to support the service.
The service is currently undergoing trials in Austin Texas and Salt Lake City Utah with Isis-compatible smartphones already available and many being updated for such support soon, including the iPhone though it remains to be seen how support will be added as the iPhone does not feature integrated NFC hardware and uses its own NFC alternative in Passbook.
Isis was initially launched in 2010 as an alternative to Google’s currently moribund Wallet mobile payment initiative which also relies on NFC technology, though that uses a different authentication routine for transactions without the dual-factor element present in Isis which forced Google to tie up with Sprint while the carriers behind Isis initially rejected Google Wallet over security concerns. The concern over the security “issues” presented by Google Wallet also forced Verizon to block access at both the software level, though the Verizon Wireless Galaxy Nexus was always compatible with Google Wallet, requiring workarounds to be enabled, only to be blocked by the carrier in subsequent software updates.