Softcard

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This article is about the mobile payment system. For the Microsoft plug-in card, see Z-80 SoftCard.
JVL Ventures, LLC
Softcard
Formerly called
Isis Wallet
Private
Industry Mobile Commerce
Fate Assets acquired by Google Inc.
Founded November 16, 2010 (2010-11-16) in New York City, New York
Founders AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless
Headquarters New York City, New York, United States
Area served
United States, Worldwide
Key people
Michael Abbott (CEO)
Services Mobile Commerace and Payments
Website gosoftcard.com

JVL Ventures, LLC d/b/a Softcard formerly Isis Mobile Wallet, was a joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon which produced a mobile payments platform known as Softcard, which used near-field communication (NFC) technology to allow users to pay for items at stores and restaurants with credit and debit card credentials stored on their smartphones. The partnership was first announced on November 16, 2010; following a trial period in 2012, the service officially launched nationwide on November 14, 2013.

On February 23, 2015, it was announced that Google Inc. would acquire Softcard's intellectual property and integrate it into its competing Google Wallet service. As a result, the Softcard service was permanently discontinued on March 31, 2015, and Softcard's member carriers have begun backing Google Wallet instead.

History[edit]

In November 2010, AT&T. T-Mobile USA and Verizon officially announced a joint venture known as Isis, which planned to develop a near-field communications-based mobile payments platform. The venture also announced partnerships with Discover Financial for access to its point-of-service network, and Barclaycard as a card issuer. The company stated that it planned to "introduce its service in key geographic markets during the next 18 months".[1][2] The three carriers announced plans to invest more than $100 million in the project.[3]

The service originally planned to operate as a payment system that would handle its own transactions, but citing rapidly developing competition, Isis changed its model to integrate with existing credit cards and payment networks.[4][5] On July 19, 2011, Isis announced that American Express, Mastercard, and Visa would additionally back the platform. Isis planned to launch a trial program in Salt Lake City and Austin in early to mid 2012.[6][7][8]

In September 2011, Isis announced that HTC, LG Electronics, Motorola Mobility, Samsung Electronics, Research in Motion, and Sony Ericsson had committed to manufacturing smartphones that would be compatible with the system. It also announced a partnership with DeviceFidelity to manufacture NFC-enabling accessories for other devices so that they could support Isis.[9] In February 2012, Isis announced Barclaycard, Capital One, and Chase as launch bank partners for the service.[8]

Isis soft-launched in Austin and Salt Lake City on October 22, 2012,[10] and launched nationwide on November 14, 2013.[11]

In July 2014, Isis announced that it planned to adopt a new name in order to alleviate confusion between it and the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which was formerly known under the abbreviation "ISIS". The venture announced its new name, Softcard, in September 2014.[12]

Google acquisition, discontinuation[edit]

On February 23, 2015, Google announced that it would acquire certain assets and intellectual property from Softcard, and integrate it into Google Wallet. At the same time, it was announced that AT&T, T-Mobile US, and Verizon would begin to back Google Wallet, and bundle its app with their compatible devices later in the year, in place of Softcard. The partnership aims to build a stronger competitor to the competing mobile payment platform Apple Pay, which was introduced alongside the launch of the iPhone 6 in late-2014, and has experienced heavier adoption than other competing services due to Apple's position in the market.[13][14][15] Softcard CEO Michael Abbott had previously indicated that the company was "actively working" with Apple to integrate its service with the device.[16] Google Wallet is also backed by Sprint and MetroPCS.[17]

Ironically, all three carriers had previously colluded against Google Wallet in order to protect Isis; Verizon refused to allow its devices to access the service because it requires access to the "secure element" of a smartphone, despite Isis needing so too.[18][19][20]

The Softcard service and apps ceased to function on March 31, 2015.[21] Softcard customer data will not be migrated to Google Wallet. The discontinuation of Softcard will also cause a regression in mobile payment functionality for Windows Phone users, as Google Wallet does not support the platform.[22]

Technologies[edit]

Softcard uses several underlying technologies:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Can a Carrier Consortium Make Mobile Payments Work?". Gigaom. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon announce Isis national mobile commerce network". Engadget. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  3. ^ Olga, Kharif. "AT&T-Verizon-T Mobile Sets $100 Million for Google Fight: Tech". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved August 29, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Carriers Downsize Isis Plans, Reach Out to Credit Card Companies". Gigaom. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "Pay-by-Phone Dialed Back". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Hachman, Mark (July 19, 2011). "Isis Carrier Venture Signs Payment Deals with Visa, Mastercard, Others". PC Magazine. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Credit card companies sign-up & back operator NFC platform". Gigaom. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "NFC payment network ISIS gets its first banking partners — Chase, Capital One, and Barclaycard". The Verge. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "Handset makers line up behind Isis NFC payment platform". Gigaom. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  10. ^ "Isis Mobile Wallet Launches in Austin, Salt Lake City". PC World. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Isis Mobile Wallet goes live nationwide, offers freebies". CNET. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "Isis Wallet becomes Softcard to avoid confusion with militant group". CNET. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  13. ^ Worland, Justin (October 28, 2014). "Apple Pay Registers 1 Million Credit Cards in 3 Days". Time. Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Google Wallet will soon come pre-installed on Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile Android phones". The Verge. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "Google Wallet, Softcard partner to take on Apple Pay". CNET. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  16. ^ "Apple's New Product Storm Threatens Long List of Companies". Bloomberg. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  17. ^ "Google Wallet expands, now available on MetroPCS". The Verge. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  18. ^ "Verizon won't offer Google Wallet for the Galaxy Nexus because it uses a 'secure element'". The Verge. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  19. ^ "Verizon's Isis Mobile Wallet app can use a phone's secure element, but Google Wallet can't". The Verge. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  20. ^ "New Google Wallet App Moves Past NFC and to All Major Carriers. iPhone Version on Tap?". All Things D. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  21. ^ "Softcard is shutting down on March 31st, and Google Wallet will replace it". The Verge. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  22. ^ "Google deal means game over for mobile payments firm Softcard". The Register. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  23. ^ Clark, Sarah (August 4, 2011). "Isis picks C-Sam to supply NFC mobile wallet technology". NFC World. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  24. ^ Clark, Sarah (December 12, 2011). "Isis picks Gemalto for NFC mobile commerce platform". NFC World. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 

External links[edit]