Isis, a venture of three of the top U.S. mobile providers, said on Tuesday it would expand its much-delayed mobile payments service nationwide later in 2013 after it tested the concept with consumers in two markets.
Isis, formed by Verizon Wireless (New York City, NY, USA), AT&T Inc (Dallas, TX, USA) and T-Mobile US (Bellevue, WA, USA), is a so-called mobile wallet service that allows consumers to make payments by waving their phone at a check-out terminal, instead of using a plastic card.
The Isis wallet uses a short range wireless technology known as near field communication (NFC) technology that will also let consumers redeem coupons and present loyalty cards "with a tap of their smartphone."
While mobile payment services are long-established in other countries including Japan, they have been slow to take off in the United States as they require retailers to install new equipment and cooperation between banks, wireless providers, handset makers and credit card companies.
When Isis launched its two test markets -- in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City, Utah -- last year, the service had already been delayed by several months. It had initially hoped to launch services in the first half of 2012, but then changed its launch target to the summer and again to October.
Isis said that about 20 million consumers already have smartphones with NFC technology and that 25 of the top 100 national U.S. retailers have installed or are in the process of installing the contactless terminals its service would require.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Ken Wills)