U.S. telco mobile payments venture Isis to delay launch again

NEW YORK Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:01pm BST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Isis, a venture of three big U.S. mobile providers, is delaying the launch of its mobile payments service for the second time this year, an executive for the company said on Thursday.

Isis is an effort by Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc and T-Mobile USA to provide mobile wallet services that would allow consumers to get rid of plastic cards and instead make payments by simply waving their phone at a check-out terminal.

While Japan has had mobile payment services for years, U.S. development of such services has been much slower. U.S. mobile providers have long said that they are keen to support payments to help improve their customer loyalty but it has taken a long time to forge agreements with card and merchant partners.

The latest delay follows Apple Inc's announcement of a new iPhone model on Wednesday without support for the near field communications (NFC) short range wireless technology that the Isis service will be based on.

Other phone makers including Samsung Electronics have embraced NFC but some analysts had hoped Apple would give the industry a shot in the arm by putting the technology in its hugely popular iPhone.

Verizon Wireless is owned by Verizon communications and Vodafone Group Plc. T-Mobile USA is owned by Deutsche Telekom AG.

ANOTHER DELAY

Isis was initially expected to launch services in its first markets in the first half of this year but then changed its launch target to the summer of 2012, which ends on Sept 21.

Now Isis does not plan to announce the timing for its launch in its first two markets - Salt Lake City, Utah and Austin, Texas - until October, its head of marketing, Jaymee Johnson, told Reuters. Johnson declined to discuss why the project is being delayed but said that Isis has made progress.

"We are wrapping things up and finishing that final punch list of items," he said, adding that the company's partnerships for the service had not changed.

Johnson said that the venture would have hundreds of merchant partners by the time it launches in the two cites and that this number would increase to "thousands." Isis also plans to expand beyond its launch cities in 2013.

The venture's first partners will include American Express, JPMorgan Chase and Capital One Financial.

(Reporting By Sinead Carew)

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