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AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon partner on Isis mobile payment project

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AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless want to replace your wallet with a smartphone.

The companies, three of the country’s largest mobile carriers, are partnering to create a national “mobile commerce network” to allow customers across the country to make purchases with just a wave of an iPhone or Android.

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The Isis project, announced Tuesday, will be headed up by Michael Abbot, a former financial executive with GE Capital.

The Isis setup would tap smartphone and near-field communication technology, which passes encrypted information between devices at close range but doesn’t require contact.

That differs from technology from VeriFone or Square, which use accessories that can read a physical credit card. The companies behind Isis said they are developing security and privacy safeguards.

“While mobile payments will be at the core of our offering, it is only the start,” Abbot said in a statement. “We plan to create a mobile wallet that ultimately eliminates the need for consumers to carry cash, credit and debit cards, reward cards, coupons, tickets and transit passes.”

Over the next year and half, the venture will be rolled out in “key geographic markets,” the companies said, eventually becoming available to all merchants, banks and wireless service providers.

Isis will be hooked up with Discover Financial Services’ payment network -- currently offered by more than 7 million U.S. merchants. Barclaycard US is expected to be the first issuer.

The mobile payment system is already popular in countries such as Japan. Card issuers such as Visa and Mastercard have also been testing options that would likely compete with Isis.

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-- Tiffany Hsu


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