“Oh Mighty ISIS!” With those three words, the power to soar with the falcons, run like the gazelles, and command the elements was entrusted to anyone wearing the amulet of the Egyptian goddess. At least according to the awesome 1970s TV show of the same name. (The above video will take you back).
The modern ISIS mobile wallet payment system has similar goals for anyone calling upon ISIS at the point of sale. ISIS is joint venture of AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, hopes to eliminate the need for a wallet by converting your smartphone into a mobile payment device.
Here is how it works: An ISIS user loads their cards onto their smartphone. When they reach a merchant who has a Near Field Communication (NFC) payments reader, the cardholder unlocks the ISIS app with a pin code, selects the card they wish to use, and taps the device against the reader. The reader translates the card information and makes the payment authorization just like any other credit card payment method. It is noteworthy that participating banks have partnered with ISIS to develop an algorithm of changing codes that is hashed between the ISIS smartphone and the bank acceptance systems to protect the card from fraud.
This is a great new way to bring NFC to the masses because:
- There’s no intermediary. Bank funds are not funneled through a middleman, eliminating ambiguity and opportunity for fraud.
- The card transaction is indistinguishable from any other credit card purchase on a merchant card terminal. The only thing a merchant needs is an NFC reader compatible with the smartphone running ISIS. It can work anywhere in the world.
The cult of Isis spread like wildfire around the ancient world. According to legend, her success was due to her promise to help not only wealthy merchants and the noble elite, but also common people, sinners, and (gasp!) artisans. The modern ISIS and the ancient goddess face similar challenges in their goal to help their patrons everywhere:
1. Spreading the word across the stormy Mediterranean
Using your smartphone to buy donuts is pretty cool, but it will take practice to form the ‘NFC tap’ habit. ISIS has super saturated a couple of markets with advertising and merchant NFC readers to promote that habit. Leaving your wallet behind and solely using ISIS is a little ways off, but we have taken the first steps.
2. Stiff competition to differentiate from what other gods may be offering
Other mobile wallets exist in the market already, and merchant groups are also proposing their own mobile wallet to keep control of bank fees. One key aspect of any mobile wallet will be marketing opportunities through loyalty cards. Getting loyalty cards to work optimally on any mobile wallet is a must.
3. Conversion of the faithful over to ISIS
Because ISIS requires close integration with banking systems, banks need to be on-boarded with ISIS one at a time. Each bank has different back-end systems. Those systems need to be certified to work on ISIS and this takes time. Today, there are a handful of banks on the network. According to ISIS officials, aa few more are in the wings.