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Report: Isis NFC venture scales back

Wed, 05/04/2011 - 8:05am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless may be curtailing their plans to launch a nationwide mobile commerce network using near-field communication (NFC) technology.

Today, The Wall Street Journal reported that the carriers have set aside plans for their own network and instead plan to set up a mobile wallet that will piggyback on existing networks run by Visa and MasterCard.

Representatives from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon could not be immediately reached for comment on the report about their NFC joint venture, dubbed Isis.

Isis was designed to collect fees for transactions conducted over their own mobile payments network. Customers would use phones equipped with NFC chips to buy goods instead of using their credit cards. It's not clear how the carriers will collect fees from the transactions if the system uses rival networks from Visa and MasterCard.

Isis was first announced last November, with the bold claim that it would eventually eliminate the need for consumers to carry cash, credit cards, coupons, tickets and transit passes.

Last month, the joint venture said it would launch a pilot program in Salt Lake City, Utah, beginning sometime in early to mid-2012. Isis said it would outfit the Utah Transit Authority with its technology, creating the first commercially available mobile transportation fare payment program in the U.S. The joint venture also planned to set up NFC-enabled point-of-sale systems for local merchants.

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