Last month saw another thunderclap in the world of near field communications (NFC), when Isis, the joint venture between AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless, inked an agreement with VeriFone with the goal of integrating the Isis Mobile Commerce Application in current and future NFC-enabled products. Employee teams from both organizations will work together in targeting large retail stores and gas/convenience stores in Salt Lake City, Utah and Austin, Texas in adopting groundbreaking mobile commerce strategies.
That will certainly mean more options at the point of sale for customers in those launch areas. And Isis is banking on VeriFone's lion's share of the United States market, as the payment solutions provider serves 70% of the top 200 retail companies and has deployed over a million NFC-capable systems already.
"Payment systems at the point of sale provide crucial infrastructure for the development of mobile commerce," said Scott Mulloy, chief technology officer for Isis.
NFC technology: What's changing for retailers
VeriFone's NFC solution for retailers promises seamless transactions at the point of sale, no matter what type of phone, virtual wallet, or mobile app customers bring into a store. Their complete POS infrastructure will manage the acceptance side of NFC mobile commerce.
And mobile payments are just the first link in the chain. VeriFone also wants to give retailers the ability to handle sophisticated loyalty programs, mobile offers, and digital coupons without blinking an eye.
NFC technology: What it means for consumers
Along with the new technology at the POS, the consortium of wireless phone companies is launching the Isis Mobile Wallet on the consumer side. The mobile app, running on a so-called "Isis Ready" mobile phone, will hold virtual versions of payment and loyalty cards from selected providers. Currently, compatible payment cards on the Isis website include a reloadable Isis Cash Card, and credit cards from Capital One and Chase.
And for consumers worried about mobile payment security, Isis touts their system as "safer than your existing wallet." Layers of security include a four-digit PIN, the ability to lock or suspend your virtual wallet remotely with a single phone call or mouse click, and protections against counterfeiting like constantly changing security codes.
Near field communications technology in the United States has been inching along for a while, but this announcement may be just what's needed to give NFC a jump start in the near future.