After months of delays, Isis has announced the debut of its mobile payment system. A joint venture by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, Isis made news earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress in March, but has been pretty quiet since then. During that quiet period a number of other players in the mobile payment market have stolen the spotlight and announced major deals.
Apple is expected to eventually unveil its own mobile payment system, one that will most likely be based around the iTunes Store payment system, but hasn’t made announcements beyond iOS 6’s Passbook feature. Apple has also kept quiet about whether it will include NFC chips used in some mobile payment systems in the upcoming iPhone 5, which some analysts and pundits consider a barrier to entry into the mobile payment market.
In a move that makes the Square/Starbucks partnership announced last week look like small potatoes, a group of national and international retailers announced plans to develop their own mobile payment network complete with mobile apps and digital wallet functionality. The move seems almost certain to shake up the nascent mobile payments market where a wide range of companies and organizations have been trying to figure out the secret sauce that will turn mobile payments into a mainstream retail system for the past couple of years.
The Merchant Customer Exchange or MCX, as the new company is known, plans to deliver a solution that offers convenience in both making purchases and in receiving customizable offers from retailers. Development of a mobile app and payment network are underway, but MCX has yet to announce any details about either the app or its network.
Last week’s announcement that Starbucks is partnering with Square for mobile payments and credit card processing is big news for the nascent U.S. mobile payments market. It was also a warning shot fired by the startup across the bow of traditional payment processing companies, many of which have struggled to bring together an effective and successful digital wallet (or iWallet) solution. The move could also complicate any plans that Apple has to move into that market following the release of iOS 6 and its Passbook feature.