The mobile payment venture Isis, still almost a year away from launching its application, is partnering with an industry heavyweight to serve as the security guard for its wallet.
Gemalto NV will be the Isis wallet's trusted service manager, the companies announced Monday. In that role, Gemalto will safeguard the sensitive information transferred between the payment credentials from banks and other payment services stored in a phone's SIM card to the Isis wallet app on mobile phones.
Gemalto, of Amsterdam, says Isis is its largest endeavor.
"Isis' approach of building a single entry point for all the mobile operators through this joint venture will make the deployment [of the system] much more efficient and faster than others in the market," says Sebastian Cano, senior vice president of telecommunications for Gemalto North America.
Isis is a joint venture involving AT&T, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless and Discover Financial Services. The Gemalto partnership gives Isis another ally in its SIM-based approach to NFC mobile payments.
Unlike Google Wallet, which uses a chip embedded in phones, Isis places the wallet application inside the phone's SIM card, making it more portable. Last month, 45 partners of the GSM Association mobile operator trade group agreed to support Near Field Communication that uses SIM cards.
Gemalto for obvious reasons supports the SIM card approach but not only because it manufactures the chip. Cano says the mobile operators have the best distribution channel to get the technology to consumers on a large scale.
"The operators already can get the SIM cards to millions of subscribers," he says. "Upgrading those cards to contain NFC is something they believe they can easily do."
Isis' security announcement comes just a week after multiple media reports suggested Verizon is blocking Google from including its mobile-wallet app on a Nexus phone that runs on the Android operating system.