Surprise! Verizon launches Isis as it keeps Google Wallet at bay

Today’s must-read (so far) is this solid post from DSLReports claiming that Verizon Wireless is “anti-competitively” holding off Google Wallet as it launches its own version of the carrier-backed Isis mobile payment app this week. The nation’s largest carrier have managed to keep Google’s offering at bay by claiming it accesses the phone’s “secure element” to store the Google ID, and in a recent filing withe the Federal Communications Commission it insisted the stance is not anti-competitive.

As DSLReports notes, Verizon has a history of trying to maximize its revenues by limiting — or eliminating — users’ access to competing services and technologies. It has crippled Bluetooth and GPS, prevented Skype’s Android app from accessing Wi-Fi and in July it settled with the FCC after it prevented users from downloading tethering apps.

But regardless if it truly is being anti-competitive with Google Wallet, the standoff underscores how carriers still have an edge in the slowly emerging world of mobile payments. They control what apps are embedded on handsets before they’re sold, and they can pull stunts like Verizon’s to make life as hard as possible on the competition. That stinks for consumers, of course, but it’s why I think Isis has as much of a chance as any other NFC-based system.