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Isis delays launch to fine-tune customer experience

Mobile payments network was scheduled to launch this summer
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The Isis mobile wallet and payments network is going to miss its target of launching this summer because it is still fine-tuning the overall customer experience, according to a senior Isis executive.

In an interview with FierceMobileContent, Jaymee Johnson, the head of marketing for Isis, said that the platform will not be ready by Sept. 21, the start of fall, and that the company will give more updates about its progress in October. Isis previously said it would launch this summer. 

Isis, which is being pushed by Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA, has been steadily building support among merchants, payments providers and credit card companies. Johnson said there are now "hundreds" of merchants in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City--its initial launch markets--ready to support the platform.

Johnson said there isn't one particular reason for the delay, and that the company is working through a handful of final issues to improve the customer experience. "I would characterize where we are as checking items off the punch list," he said.

The Isis executive said the company is making sure everything from buying a phone with Near Field Communications to downloading the Isis app and using the phone in a store is working properly. "It's really more of a commitment from an end-to-end customer experience to make sure all elements of that process are working well," he said.

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile first announced Isis in late 2010. The Isis digital wallet allows consumers to conduct point-of-sale transactions, redeem coupons and use store merchant loyalty cards via NFC-enabled devices and corresponding point-of-sale reader technologies. Isis has inked partnerships with American Express, Chase, Capital One and Barclaycard. In addition, six device manufacturers--HTC, LG, Motorola Mobility, Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), Samsung and Sony--have committed to introducing products that support the Isis platform. In March Isis announced agreements with point-of-sale terminal manufacturers VeriFone, Ingenico, ViVOtech and Equinox Payments.

Johnson said Isis has made sure that customers' mobile wallets will be much more secure than their existing wallets. He said that since the Isis wallet is PIN-protected, account information cannot be accessed directly from the wallet on the phone. In addition, he said customers can call carriers to have the contents of their mobile wallet remotely wiped if they lose their phone. "We are confident that security will be strong."

Much has been made of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) decision not to include NFC in the iPhone 5, with some seeing it as a big blow to the technology. However, Johnson said Isis is still "bullish" on NFC. He said the mobile payments industry has coalesced around the technology as its standard.

Johnson declined to comment on when Isis' first two markets will launch or on how many Isis will add after that. "It is certainly our intention to grow on a much broader basis in 2013," he said.

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