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AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless form Isis

Isis is the name of a joint partnership formed by carriers AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless to bring mobile commerce, which enables consumers to use phones to make purchases, to the masses. The four carriers together reach more than 200 million consumers. Isis will introduce the system in select markets within the next 18 months. The mobile commerce network, available to all banks, merchants and carriers, is intended to build the scale based on a single platform.

The first step will be to build a streamlined mobile payment network based on smart phone and near-field communication (NFC), a short-range, high-frequency wireless technology that enables encrypted exchange of information between devices at a short distance. Isis CEO Michael Abbott said that the company also plans a “mobile wallet” that will eliminate the need to carry credit, debit and reward cards, tickets, coupons and other commerce-based printed material.

Isis has also partnered with Discover Financial Services’ payment network for the core infrastructure for processing and clearance of transactions as well as with Barclaycard US, which will be the first issuer of mobile payment products. In this first example, Isis mobile payments will appear on Barclaycard statements rather than the mobile phone provider’s bill.

Although these rival carriers have banded together to create this mobile payment system, Sprint is the notable absence in the joint venture. Sprint is mulling its options, including the launch of Sprint Mobile Wallet, which enables mobile commerce by use of a universal PIN code; purchases would be billed to Visa, MasterCard and/or Amazon Payment accounts. A payments services provider, CardinalCommerce, would host the transactions. Sprint Mobile Wallet will debut as a Sprint Zone download but will be preloaded on devices in 2011.

Meanwhile, Google plans to integrate NFC technology into Android 2.3, another way that consumers will be able to buy with their phones.