The Isis Mobile Wallet replaces traditional magnetic stripe credit cards issued by American Express, Capital One, and Chase. After linking their Isis credentials to an eligible credit card, users can wave their NFC-enabled smartphones at contactless payment terminals bearing the MasterCard Paypass or Isis Ready logos. The coalition maintains a full list of participating merchants on its website at PayWithIsis.com.
Mobile Wallet improves security while offering convenience
Industry analysts and technology pundits have speculated that wireless phone carriers could eventually use the Isis platform to offer direct billing for their customers, bypassing credit card issuers entirely. In the meantime, consumers without a credit card from Isis' three launch partners can still make contactless payments using a linked virtual prepaid debit card. Account holders can reload an Isis Cash Card for free via direct deposit, or by paying a fee of up to $4.95 at a merchant displaying the MoneyPak or Visa ReadyLink logos. Cards that go unused for more than nine months will incur a monthly maintenance fee.
Officials made no announcements about when the Isis service would work for consumers and merchants outside the two test markets. A competing service, Google Wallet, has already launched nationwide mobile payments through partnerships with large retailers who have already installed contactless processing terminals. Technology roadmaps published by Visa and MasterCard promise significant cost and risk reductions for merchants who adopt contactless payments as their primary transaction format within the next few years.