LAS VEGAS — It was coincidence but call it great luck that a first day panel at the Money2020 conference featured Isis’s Tony Sabetti on the very day the mobile payments service launched its much-delayed pilot in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City.
Sabetti, who directs point of sale operations for Isis, admitted that pulling Isis together was a long time happening. “It’s about building a complete ecosystem with carriers, merchants, card processors, hardware makers, consumers,” he said Monday.
That kind of complexity can’t be sorted fast.
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The Near Field Communication – NFC – chip probably was one of the easier steps in the Isis launch. Ten-year-old technology, NFC – which powers the Isis payments -- is well tested, agreed most experts at Money2020.
Sabetti ticked off what he called three musts for NFC to succeed:
* "It has to be secure.”
* "It has to be easy to use.”
* "It has to be exciting.”
Maybe the last part is the hardest, suggested Sabetti. “It has to be exciting or consumers won’t use it.” In the U.S., consumers have two generations of credit card experience – the first big card rollout dates back to 1958 with BankAmericard – and displacing a well-accepted tool will not happen in a blink, Sabetti seemed to suggest.
“It’s about putting the right technology, on the right application, in the right place,” said Sabetti who stressed, “NFC is inherently secure.”
Much may ride on the limited Isis pilot – involving “hundreds” of merchants, per the press statement. Interest in Isis among the many attendees at Money2020 seemed scant.
But there was agreement that a successful pilot might turn that around for the carriers – AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile – that launched the venture.