Isis: When Mobile Carriers Tries to Create a Mobile Wallet App

Cellular’s major carriers have been busily testing a mobile wallet app, Isis, since last year, but the joint venture looks like a failure from day one. To begin with, the app uses Near Field Communication, so it’s only available for Android phones. While there are approximately 4,000 Android models in existence, only 40 are compatible with the new app and hardware, depending on the carrier and only with an enhanced SIM card. Apple users have the option of using Isis, but they will need a special enhanced NFC phone case.

Further, American Express Pre-paid Serve and Chase cards are the only cards users can load into the app – Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover are currently not supported.

Isis’ video ad promoted the mobile wallet as available at hundreds of thousands of locations, but you should probably check the local retailers’ map on the app’s website before leaving your wallet at home. The location search worked periodically and on my third attempt I was able to locate the following retailers in San Francisco: Radio Shack, Walgreens, CVS, Foot Locker, and Office Depot.

Reviews on Google Play have been less than stellar. Disgruntled users are solely downloading it to complain about Verizon’s blocking of Google’s more popular mobile payment app, Google Wallet.