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Isis Wants Users In The Worst Way Possible, And That’s How It’s Going After Them

Written by Frank Hayes
October 24th, 2012

Isis has finally launched its mobile payments trials in Salt Lake City and Austin—and done it in a way that guarantees the fewest possible customers will use the new service. On Monday (Oct. 22), the mobile operators’ consortium announced that all customers need to do is go to their Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile store, where their phone will be opened up, the SIM replaced and the operating system upgraded (hope you don’t lose any data that was on there). What could possibly discourage customers more?

How about the fact that those mobile stores will also be encouraging customers to buy a new phone as long as they’re already in the store? And yes, we’re sure that will make retail chains feel warm and fuzzy about Isis, too.

This is genuinely discouraging. These mobile telcos have had two years to prepare for this go-live announcement. They’ve known for at least a year that every smartphone that was going to use Isis would need a new type of SIM that contains a Secure Element to do NFC transactions. And they’ve known that the goal was to get as many of their customers as possible using Isis.

Why haven’t they been putting Isis-compatible SIMs in all their smartphones for at least the past year? Why haven’t they continuously upgraded the smartphone OSes to be Isis-ready? Put another way, why haven’t they made it possible for every retailer who sells smartphones tied to Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile to be selling Isis capability at the same time?

Is this get-started-with-Isis plan really just to get customers into those mobile company stores to sell them new phones? If that’s the case, that means these telcos understand retail even less than retailers expected them to when Isis first surfaced.

It also means Isis is catastrophically clueless when it comes to payments.

Do we have to recap the recent history of payments again? Visa and MasterCard got their unshakable foothold in payments by dropping 100 million unsolicited credit cards into potential customers’ mailboxes in the 1960s. Those customers didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything but sign the card and start using it.

Yes, that was financially irresponsible. That’s why unsolicited drops were outlawed in 1970. But it worked really, really well. And even today, customers don’t have to physically walk down to the bank, turn their wallets and purses over to a bank employee, then have them opened up and modified so that a credit card could be installed. But that’s effectively what Isis is asking its potential customers to do.

That won’t work. You have to make this process effortless.


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One Comment | Read Isis Wants Users In The Worst Way Possible, And That’s How It’s Going After Them

  1. Bob Skattum Says:

    I couldn’t agree more. The analogy to how Visa and MasterCard started is totally correct. At a minimum, if I was carrying a potentially ISIS-capable smartphpne, why wouldn’t I be given the opportunity to go online, request the specific card product data that I want loaded, and let the ISIS telcos obtain the data from the card partners and send me the SIM card to me with simple installation instructions. Or better yet, why not send me a SIM card that works with my phone, have me call or go online to activate and register (like card companies do)and do an upsell (if I am interested) at that time.

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