Rumors of an impending ISIS launch have been swirling around for a while now, but the company has just finally put an end to all that speculation. In keeping with previously leaked documents, ISIS has confirmed that its carrier-led mobile payments system will indeed officially go live in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City, Utah on October 22.
For those not yet up to speed on the ISIS situation, it’s a mobile payments scheme spearheaded by Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile (Sprint, if you’ll recall, eloped with Google Wallet back in 2011). Users with the right NFC-enabled hardware and the ISIS app installed can link the service to an existing credit card and tap their device on special receivers to wirelessly pay for their Red Bulls and Cheetos.
According to a statement issued by the company, it aims to have 20 ISIS-friendly phones on the market by the end of the year. The full list hasn’t yet been revealed, but a leaked T-Mobile document sheds a bit of light on what to expect: the carrier’s Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy S II, and Relay 4G will be supported, and it stands to reason that Verizon and AT&T’s Galaxy variants will soon be able to join in the fun as well.
Frankly, it’s about time that ISIS finally saw the light of day — it was originally revealed back in 2010, and the team spent most of 2011 locking up partnerships with device manufacturers like HTC, LG, Samsung, Motorola, and RIM. Then, earlier this year, ISIS began to ink deals with local merchants in Austin and Salt Lake City in an attempt to give all of its potential users something to actually muck around with.
While ISIS was scrambling to build up those crucial relationships, the mobile payments space has only continued to grow in size and scope. Square (and its different approach to mobile payments) partnered up with Starbucks and recently announced it closed a $200 million funding round for one, though not every player has had quite as much luck. ISIS’s closest existing rival, Google Wallet, has seen better days. As I mentioned, Sprint was the only major carrier to officially throw its weight behind Google Wallet, and even its historically-chummy relationship with Google couldn’t stop the wireless provider from reportedly considering a mobile payment alternative.