Three of the largest US mobile operators have got together to form Isis, a mobile payment clearing house that can support smartphones for payments. AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless are behind the scheme and expect it to go live in the next 18 months.
"Our mobile commerce network, through relationships with merchants, will provide an enhanced, more convenient, more personalised shopping experience for consumers," said Michael Abbott, chief executive officer of Isis.
"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 announcement looks promising, considering the size of the potential network will make the system viable, and Barclaycard is likely to come on board soon. But the move will add another layer of complexity for IT managers looking to handle corporate mobile communications systems.
Losing a phone is bad enough, especially if the handset isn't locked down. Losing a phone that is also a wallet could be much worse and IT managers will need to look very carefully at security systems before rolling this out.
Nevertheless there does seem to be real momentum behind this kind of technology. Yesterday Google's Eric Schmidt announced support for the technology and the forthcoming Apple 5 phone is widely expected to do so too, particularly after hiring Benjamin Vigier, creator of PayPal Mobile.
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