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Google Wallet left on margins by ISIS tap-pay hookup

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Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express have all signed onto US operator consortium Isis, leaving Google Wallet with just MasterCard as a payment partner.

The US operator consortium – set up by AT&T, T-Mobile USA and Verizon – has announced that the four biggest payment processors will create mobile payment applications compatible with the Isis infrastructure, which will conform to the GSMA-backed Trusted Service Manager standard.

When it was launched, Isis had plans to become a payment processor in its own right, but that didn't go down well with the existing players, and the consortium changed tack to welcome existing players with a standard infrastructure – a decision which has now paid off with broad industry support.

Google Wallet, meanwhile, has only MasterCard's backing. When it launches to the public, later this year, the Google Wallet will only contain a Google pre-paid card and (potentially) one from Citi, while an Isis phone could contain any MasterCard, Visa, Discover or American Express payment card.

Google Wallet will also need a MasterCard Paypass terminal, while Isis devices should work anywhere (depending on the installed payment cards).

If there were any Isis phones, of course... Isis-compatible hardware has yet to arrive, though with operators asking manufacturers for support, it should come pretty quickly. Google Wallet already has one phone – the Nexus S 4G on Sprint – with others promised very soon. It will be interesting to see how manufacturers respond to conflicting specifications from Google and the operators – appeasing both is possible, but presents a more-complicated user experience.

The UK equivalent to Isis still lacks a name, but is apparently working on a logo. NFC World reports that the bigger European operators reckon the logo is the key to widespread adoption of pay-by-wave, so have started development – presumably in the hope that a decent logo will attract the same payment processors who've signed up to Isis. ®

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