Isis may just be in its infancy, but the mobile payment consortium’s Chief Sales Officer Jim Stapleton said that its trial in Salt Lake City is producing positive results from both consumers and merchants. Speaking at a media briefing from a smart card conference in Utah on Tuesday, Stapleton said the average Isis user pays for goods or services with the mobile wallet five times or more a week.
Stapleton added that the typical Utah Isis customer follows five different merchants using the wallet’s loyalty card and coupon features, and a customer who signs up for a business’s loyalty program tends to visit that business twice as often as a regular customer. Stapleton, however, did not say how many customers Isis actually has to date.
Isis is a consortium founded by Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile to ensure that carriers weren’t left out of the mobile payments land grab. Like Google Wallet, Isis uses near field communications (NFC) chips to initiate mobile payments at supported terminals, but it authenticates the transaction against the customer’s SIM card, where encrypted credit card data is stored. Sprint chose to pursue its mobile payments strategy with Google instead.
It’s been a rocky start for Isis, which missed its scheduled launch last summer but finally went live in Austin and Salt Lake City in October. My colleague Stacey Higginbotham tried out the service in Austin shortly afterwards only to run into obstacles. Not only was Isis unsupported in all but a few handsets from her carrier, many stores that were supposed to participate in the launch had never heard of the program.
From Stapleton’s report, it doesn’t sound like Salt Lake City is experiencing the same growing pains as Austin, but this could be because there was a much more concerted outreach effort in that city. Stapleton said one of the main reasons Isis chose Salt Lake City was that its public transportation network, the Utah Transit Authority, fully supported NFC transactions, giving hundreds of thousands of people instant incentive to use the service. Isis and the UTA promoted the mobile payments option further by offering Isis users free rides through January.
Isis has a long road ahead of it, as do all mobile payment services, before it becomes a mainstream service. A comScore study on mobile wallets released this week found that the only digital payment service more than half of Americans had ever heard of is PayPal. Only 41 percent of those polled had heard of Google Wallet, while a mere 8 percent had ever even used Google’s service. Isis scored far lower, with only 6 percent familiar with the platform and only 1 percent having ever used it. Considering that Isis is available on a limited number of handsets in only two cities, 1 percent seems kind of high.