Isis exec: Mobile commerce will replace credit cards, but it will take time

SAN JOSE, Calif.--A top executive from Isis--the mobile payments joint venture from AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS)--told the audience here at the MobileCon 2013 trade show that he believes mobile commerce could one day replace credit cards, but it will take a number of years for that transition to occur.

Michael Abbott, CEO of Isis


Michael Abbott, CEO of Isis, said that the U.S. payment industry is worth $4 trillion today, mostly through credit cards. "It took 40 years to move it from cash to check. It will move but it will take a number of years."

Abbott made his comments during a roundtable discussion at MobileCon moderated by Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead. The panel consisted of Isis-friendly partners including Dan Schulman, global president, enterprise growth at American Express and James White, chairman, CEO and president of Jamba Juice. American Express has said it will support Isis in its nationwide rollout and Jamba Juice just announced a promotion in which it will give up to 1 million people who use the Isis NFC-enabled app at any of its participating Jamba Juice locations a free smoothie.

White said the goal of the campaign is to get customers to come back to the stores and buy a Jamba drink every day. "We want to create habituation with our brand," White said. "We think it will ease customer service in our shops and incent customers to come more frequently."

When asked if American Express was worried about mobile commerce taking business away from their core competency, which is issuing credit cards, Schulman said that the company is focused on payments and that credit cards or mobile commerce is just a point-of-sale technology. "We think about payments, not the technology," he said, noting that the real key is the payment information and how that information is used.

Abbott also said that Isis' mobile payment service, which is expected to launch soon, is going to launch with NFC because it is a technology that is available now with merchants. However, he suggested that Isis could switch to another technology down the road. "The primary reason we went with NFC is that it's available with1.2 million merchants now. Over time we could migrate."

Isis' service will work across most new Android phones and the joint venture plans to support iPhone via an NFC-capable case (and related iOS app) that it has said it will launch in the next few months.

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