Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile Unveil Joint Mobile-Commerce Plan

We now know more about a mobile commerce venture that will team three of the four largest wireless carriers in the United States.

First coming to light this past summer, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA today announced that their joint venture will be called Isis. Isis is a national mobile commerce network that the telcos say aims to fundamentally transform how people shop, pay and save.

The first step will be building a mobile-payment network that allows consumers to use their mobile phones to make purchases. The carriers say Isis will use smartphone and near-field communication (NFC) technology which delivers encrypted information between devices to modernize the payments process, increasing competition and value to consumers and businesses. Expect to see Isis get off the ground in major markets sometime in the next 18 months.

“Our mobile commerce network, through relationships with merchants, will provide an enhanced, more convenient, more personalized shopping experience for consumers,” said Michael Abbott, new CEO of Isis, in a statement. “While mobile payments will be at the core of our offering, it is only the start. We plan to create a mobile wallet that ultimately eliminates the need for consumers to carry cash, credit and debit cards, reward cards, coupons, tickets and transit passes.”

The teaming of the three major telcos should potentially give more than 200 million people access to the new service. Isis is working with Discover Financial Services to develop a mobile-payment infrastructure for the venture. Barclaycard US is expected to be the first issuer on the network, offering multiple mobile payment products.

Of course, security will be the question on the minds of many American consumers. The carriers say the new system is being designed and built to include strong safeguards to protect your information.

The carriers are likely to face a battle royale with credit behemoths Visa and Mastercard, which have their own mobile-payment ideas. One stumbling block is that handset makers havent been in a hurry to install near-field communication chips into their devices since mobile payments havent taken off in the U.S.

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