Android News

HTC, Samsung, and Motorola join ISIS, an NFC rival to Google Wallet

September 27, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

Android News, Google, Open Handset Alliance


Google Wallet is Google’s shot at introducing near field communications to the world. It’s currently available only in the Nexus S, only on Sprint, and only with a Mastercard. Even with Visa’s recent confirmation that it will support Wallet, Google is up against a big challenge in getting its NFC system widely adopted.

Oh, and did I mention that the very people it hopes to embrace Google Wallet are participating in a competing project?

ISIS – a mobile payment joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon – announced today that all of the top Android phone makers will release phones that “implement Isis NFC and technology standards.” HTC, LG, Motorola Mobility, Samsung Mobile, and Sony Ericsson have joined the venture, pledging support as a way to encourage wide adoption of NFC.

Isis will do the very things that Google seeks to popularize with Wallet. The NFC-based technology will enable consumers to securely store their bank information on their phones and make payments by placing the back of the device near a register. It will also store customer reward cards and enable backwards compatibility through DeviceFidelity, so existing smartphone users will be able to use NFC without having to purchase new phones.

That’s obviously not good for Google. Wallet is on its own island now that all the major handset makers, including one Google is trying to purchase, and all the major carriers with the exception of Sprint have agreed upon a standard. And while Wallet has Mastercard now and Visa in the future, Isis already has those credit services, along with American Express and Discover, signed-on. It will be an uphill battle to get massive adoption with so many things stacked against it.

The bright side is that Google is, for now, ahead of the game. Isis is currently in testing in Austin, Texas, while Google and Mastercard have already completed their early testing phases and are rolling out in select markets now. There’s no confirmed date when ISIS will actually arrive in stores and phones held by consumers. Perhaps being first and being able to offer special deals will help Google further encourage adoption. It better move quickly if it hopes to make Android manufacturers see value in supporting its efforts as well. Here are some quotes from those companies in ISIS’s announcement.

“Today’s announcement signals the growing acceptance of NFC technology by some of the world’s leading device maker. At HTC, we see tremendous opportunities for consumers and merchants as we move beyond traditional payments to a future of NFC-enabled mobile commerce.”

- Kouji Kodera, chief product officer, HTC Corporation.

“NFC technology on LG devices will provide consumers with an all-in-one mobile experience that delivers convenience without comprising security or piece of mind. Creating the ideal mobile wallet, LG NFC enabled devices will help change the way consumers shop, pay and save.”

- Jeff Hwang, president, LG Mobile Phones

“NFC is the future of mobile payments and will ensure that transactions are done securely from mobile devices. Through working with Isis as well as the broader Android ecosystem, we look forward to providing consumers with NFC-enabled handsets that make mobile commerce a reality.”

- Christy Wyatt, corporate VP of software & services product management, Motorola Mobility.

“The key to widespread adoption of mobile commerce will be the broad availability of NFC-enabled handsets. Samsung Mobile will be working with Isis and the mobile carriers to ensure NFC-enabled handsets are widely available to consumers.”

- Dale Sohn, president, Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile)

“NFC offers consumers the ability to broaden their communication experience beyond the phone, and common standards and best practices are key to a secure and convenient mobile commerce experience. Sony Ericsson is poised to be part of this movement and to drive the development of new, exciting and creative experiences to deliver the most entertaining smartphones.”

- Jan Uddenfeldt, chief technology officer, Sony Ericsson.