ISIS: So Close, Yet So Far

This summer proved to be a busy time for ISIS, the American based mobile wallet driven by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.  News out of ISIS aims to further expand the reach and power of their mobile wallet offering but will it be enough to get both merchants and consumers on board?

The Good News…

In July, ISIS revealed loose plans for a national rollout by year-end 2013 but a specific date remains up in the air.  Perhaps a wise move on refraining from communicating a hard date as the consortium faced a number of delays in their 2012 mobile wallet pilot launch in Salt Lake City, Utah and Austin, Texas.

In August, Chase and ISIS jointly revealed that Chase has not only signed on to a national rollout but has intentions on expanding the number of Chase credit cards offered in the wallet.  Chase credit card offerings will now include Freedom, Slate, Sapphire and JP Morgan Palladium cards.

An earlier August announcement revealed a deeper partnership between ISIS and American Express with the inclusion of Amex Serve loaded on every ISIS wallet.  Serve is a prepaid account currently offered by American Express largely targeting the unbanked and underbanked population.  ISIS users will have the ability to load money onto Serve through direct deposit or using an existing bank account.  Through Serve, ISIS users will also be able to make person-to-person (P2P) payments within the Serve network of users.

The Reality…

The recent news makes headway for ISIS; however, there is still a gap in the product offering when you consider how consumers act.  Payment behavior varies widely.  Consumers choose different payment methods based on preference, cash flow at certain times of the month or year, incentive/rewards tied to certain payment schemes, and other psychological factors.

The key here is that consumers are attached to how they pay for certain things.  And because of this, consumers want a choice in payment method.  ISIS appears to be closing the gap with credit card offerings and even now targeting the unbanked with the introduction of Serve.  However, there remains a serious shortfall in the ISIS wallet without a simple and easy way of paying directly through a bank account.

Forcing users to load money onto the wallet and not offering an integrated mechanism for attaching a bank account/debit card to the mobile wallet will prevent users from thinking of ISIS a true replacement for their physical wallet.

Hopefully ISIS has a fully integrated payment experience on their roadmap or else users will choose alternate options in the market that offer them more choice.  PayPal, anyone?

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About Kelly Martin 14 Articles
Having worked in both retail and commercial banking in the US, Kelly is passionate about product innovation in banking and payments. In her role as an Online Banking Product Manager for M&T Bank, Kelly roots her approach to product development in creating a rich and intuitive customer experience. The views and opinions expressed by Kelly are hers and in no way reflect those of M&T Bank.

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