NEW YORK — Three major U.S. wireless carriers formally announced a joint venture to allow their customers to pay for goods and services with their handsets.
The venture, dubbed Isis, will be run by Michael Abbott, who was formerly chief marketing officer of General Electric Co.'s GE Capital credit card arm. Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA are participating in the venture.
The mobile payment network will use Discover Financial Services' payment network. Barclays PLC's Barclaycard US will be the first issuer on the network.
The telco joint venture comes as major credit card companies such as Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. are pushing their own mobile payment initiatives. In July, American Express Co. hired Dan Schulman, who was the architect of Sprint Nextel Corp.'s prepaid wireless strategy.
The divergent paths underscore the tension over who controls the mobile payment network, how the revenue is divided, and which party shoulders the financial and legal burdens.
Both sides, however, are embracing a technology called near-field communications, or NFC, which allows a person to wave their card or phone in front of a scanner to pay for goods and services. NFC is already found in cards, and can be accepted at drugstore chains and gas stations.
Companies now rely on NFC stickers or memory cards with an NFC chip shoved into cellphones--slowing adoption of the feature. But newer cellphones are expected to have the technology fully integrated. Research in Motion Ltd., for example, will use NFC chips in its BlackBerrys next year, according to people familiar with the company's phone rollout plans. Nokia Corp. has been experimenting with NFC technology for years.