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Isis launches consumer trials with 9 NFC-equipped Android phones

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Isis, the nationwide mobile commerce network led by Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA, is kicking off consumer trials in the Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City markets.

Isis

Consumers can select from nine Android-based, Isis-ready smartphones at launch.

The Isis mobile wallet enables customers to pay for purchases, use store loyalty cards and redeem discounts and coupons from Near Field Communications-enabled smartphones. T-Mobile USA will offer three Isis-Ready devices at launch: Samsung's Galaxy S III, Galaxy S II and Galaxy S Relay 4G. In an email, the carrier said that Samsung's Galaxy Note II and HTC's Amaze 4G will also support the service by the end of 2012, with additional handsets slated for 2013. Verizon Wireless currently offers one Isis-Ready model, HTC's Droid Incredible 4G LTE, but said it will expand the service to Motorola's Droid Razr HD and Droid Razr Maxx later this week.

According to Isis, consumers can select from nine Android-based, Isis-ready smartphones at launch. As of press time, AT&T has not yet announced which models will support the payment service, and the operator did not respond to a request for clarification.

To begin using Isis, consumers must first visit an AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA or Verizon Wireless retail store in Austin or Salt Lake City to obtain a secure element SIM card and ensure their handset model is Isis-enabled. From there, users must download the Isis application from the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play digital storefront. Consumers may either load an eligible American Express, Capital One or Chase credit card into their Isis wallet or leverage the Isis Cash Card inserted into every account.

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile first announced Isis in late 2010. The payment network was slated to begin consumer trials this summer, but last month, the company scrapped those plans to continue fine-tuning the overall customer experience.

"At launch, consumers in Austin and Salt Lake City will be able to use the Isis mobile wallet at hundreds of contactless-enabled merchant locations in each market," Isis head of marketing Jaymee Johnson recently told Mobile Commerce Daily. "In addition to national partners such as Macy's, Jamba Juice, Aéropostale, Foot Locker and Whole Foods, we have partnered with many iconic local merchants including Book People, Iron Works and University Co-Op in Austin, and Deseret Book, Energy Solutions Arena and Utah Transit Authority in Salt Lake City."

While many critics have predicted doom for Isis, citing the delayed rollout, lack of widespread support for NFC and competition from rival services like Google Wallet, Yankee Group Analyst Nick Holland believes Isis could have the last laugh.

"U.S. consumers buy phones from operators, and Isis can drive NFC handsets and its own brand directly to end-users by marketing the value proposition at its retail locations and via national advertising," Holland said. "Rather than waiting for [Europay, MasterCard and Visa]-related upgrades to [point of sale] hardware, Isis could borrow from the best-of-breed strategies of Starbucks, LevelUp and Square and issue low-cost NFC handsets/card readers to merchants. Also, it could subsidize device and merchant transaction costs with third-party advertising, offering even lower costs for NFC device-to-device transactions using direct-to-carrier billing."

For more:
- read this release
- read this Verizon Wireless News Center post
- read this Yankee Group analysis

Related articles:
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Isis delays launch to fine-tune customer experience
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Isis inks POS integration deals with VeriFone, ViVOtech and Ingenico

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