Isis said Tuesday it plans to expand beyond its trials in Austin and Salt Lake City to roll out service nationwide by the end of the year. The joint venture involving Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile will add new functionality, according to CEO Michael Abbott (who declined to discuss details), and will ink new retail and financial partners.
The item that may be getting the most news, though, is the claim that the expansion “will include iPhones.” But Isis will continue to depend on NFC for mobile payments, as my colleague Erica Ogg noted in this updated piece, which means that owners with iPhones or other handsets that don’t have NFC will have to use special phone sleeves to use Isis.
That might be worthwhile if Isis were somehow integrated with Passbook — which will almost certainly never happen — or if Isis were to give iPhone owners a big reason to switch to mobile payments through substantial discounts, say, or a one-time credit of $20 or so. Without such incentives, novelty is the only reason for an iPhone owner to use an Isis sleeve. And novelty isn’t enough.