If you're unable to use your NFC-capable Android phone to make tap-based payments with Google Wallet, chances are it's because AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless have their own NFC-based payment system in mind with Isis. But that could change...
NFC World reports that Capitol One, one of the three founder card issuers, is pulling out of the Isis pilot program soon. "We have gained valuable insights from our customers who were among the first to pay with the Isis Mobile Wallet," the card issuer said. "We continue to engage with Isis on the future of mobile payments."
The move signals the possibility that banks are losing faith that the Isis system can successfully launch during 4Q 2013. As it stands now, the pilot participants reside in Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah, and don't necessarily represent the spending habits of an entire nation. That said, Capitol One pulling out at this point doesn't make much sense if the company plans to participate in the program once it goes nationwide.
The Isis pilot program launched in October 2012. Participants living in the two cities currently have two other payment options: American Express (AE Cards, OPEN small business) and Chase (Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire, Slate from Chase, and JP Morgan Palladium). American Express announced "Serve" support back in August, and Chase coughed up its official support a week later.
On the POS sale front, a number of companies integrating SmartTap capabilities into product lines include Equinox Payments, VeriFone, PAX Technology, ID TECH and a number of others. That said, there are plenty of partners supporting the upcoming Isis payment system, but at launch, the number of financial platforms, so far, seem to be limited. As of this writing, Barclaycard, one of the initial pilot partners, is nowhere in sight.
According to the FAQ, the Isis Mobile Wallet can be used to pay at NFC-capable register using the MasterCard PayPass, VISA PayWave, American Express ExpressPay and Discover Zip. Isis users can also make payments at NFC-based registers sporting the Universal Contactless logo, SmartTap logo, Isis Pay & Save and Isis Pay & Go.
Several days ago, Google announced that its Wallet app will be supported by all Android devices using version 2.3 and higher. Previously the app was only available to NFC-capable devices that weren't on the Isis blacklist supplied by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. With the app available on all devices, most owners can now only make payments online with the new app: NFC transactions are still blocked for customers on those three carriers.
Whether NFC will become the industry standard for financial transactions is unknown at this point. The technology is still trickling into devices, and heavy-hitters like Apple have even shunned the tech. The fruity company is now relying on Bluetooth Low Energy transactions, aka iBeacon, instead of NFC in the new iOS 7 platform.
For now it seems that Android is the only supported platform (based on the current listed devices), but Isis will supposedly work on BlackBerry, Windows Phone and eventually Apple's iOS.