Carriers, Credit Card Companies Make Headway on Mobile Payments

Three of the major wireless carriers in the U.S. today made major headway in rolling out a mobile payments strategy by announcing partnerships with Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

The credit card companies said today they are committed to the Isis joint venture formed by AT&T, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless.

The deals are a big coup for the carriers, which face many hurdles in stitching a payments network together that spans banks, merchants, hardware manufacturers and consumers.

The participation of the major credit card companies will go a long way toward creating a usable service, and is notable, given that all of the companies are pursuing some sort of digital payments strategy of their own.

It’s important to note that Sprint is the only major U.S. carrier not participating in Isis.

There has been some question as to whether it was originally part of the carrier’s plan to have such an inclusive approach, or if it later realized that the project would be impossible if it did not attempt an open approach. Isis executives have downplayed any drastic shift in strategy.

Since Isis was formed, Google has launched its mobile wallet strategy and others have announced digital wallets as well, such as Visa and American Express. MasterCard has partnered with Google. Other start-ups, like Square, are also competing in the market.

Isis announced it was going to launch initially in Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas, using near field communication. It plans to roll out in the first half of 2012 with support from all four payment networks.

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