Mobile commerce heats up: Isis inks deals with Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AmEx

Mobile payments provider Isis -- jointly owned by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile -- has signed deals with all four major payment networks.

The mobile commerce race just kicked it into high gear.

Mobile commerce company Isis announced on Tuesday that it had signed deals with the parent companies of all four major payment networks -- Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express -- in preparation for the deployment of a mobile payments ecosystem in the U.S.

Isis, which is a joint venture between AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, says it's one piece of a plan that includes Isis-enabled smartphones and payment terminals, where a simple tap activates near-field communication (NFC) technology to make purchases or redeem coupons without breaking open your leather wallet.

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It's the first company to sign deals with all four major platforms, and instantly makes Isis a major player in the space. It's also a clear message from the financial services companies: we don't care which method you use to move money around, so long as you use our platform (and vendor network) to do it.

The distinguishing factor besides the breadth of Isis' strategy is the Isis-ready handsets. With support from three of the four major U.S. carriers -- Sprint is on its heels for this one -- the move could help mobile payments gain traction more quickly, saving consumers from deciding how to put the pieces together to make it work.

Isis announced earlier this year that it would launch in the first half of 2012 in Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas. All four networks will be ready to go at that time, the company says.

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