Slated for launch in 2012, ISIS will aim to bring contactless mobile payments to the majority of American cell phone users. So, how exactly will it work? Forbes, which was recently privy to a sneak preview, examines the nuts and bolts of the exciting new service:
According to Forbes, the ISIS app will come preloaded on NFC-enabled phones – either embedded in the SIM card or in the phone’s hardware. For now, the app only works with phones that run on AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon–the founding members of ISIS–though the service is now open to other carriers.
In short, ISIS is designed to replace your real wallet with a virtual one stored on your phone. The app stores credit and debit card information in the form of digital card images. To select a card, you simply tap on the corresponding icon and the account information, e.g. current balance and transaction history, is automatically cued up.
Then it’s simply a matter of tapping the phone against a reader, and the payment information is routed over your bank or credit card network to complete the transaction. ISIS does not handle the payment transaction itself, but rather provides a secure container for the contents of your wallet.
ISIS also stores and keeps track of your loyalty cards and digital coupons. According to Forbes, ISIS plans to push this service by installing readers at the entrances of shops that customers can tap to receive in-store coupons.
Additionally, financial institutions and merchants will be able to add their own apps and widgets to ISIS, allowing them to provide coupons and offers to their customers. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon will also be able to add widgets to ISIS, as well as independent companies like Groupon.
Because ISIS does not handle the payment transaction itself, the company will not have access to your purchasing history – meaning ISIS will not be able to provide users personalized marketing and advertising offers.
“That information is routed to the banks. We’re not trying to intercept it,” ISIS CEO Michael Abbott told Forbes. Abbot added that ISIS would have liked to have access to that information, but banks view it as “proprietary,” and some users may object to the practice.
ISIS will operate under an open platform system, meaning any company who wants to join the service can – at a certain fee. Abbot declined to reveal the exact cost, but allowed that companies should be pleased to pay it considering the “substantial amount of value” ISIS could generate. What this should all lead to, Abbot says, is a true mobile commerce ecosystem.
Read more here.