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Capital One is Leaving the Isis Mobile Wallet Pilot; Could Be the Beginning of the End for NFC Payments

September 18, 2013 - Written By Jeremiah Nelson

Capital One is done with the Isis mobile payment system. After completing pilot testing, Capital One says “We have gained valuable insights from our customers who were among the first to pay with the Isis Mobile Wallet” and has decided to exit the program, according to NFC World. It sounds like the “valuable insights” they gained from their customers was that no one is using the service.

Capital One informed NFC World that it was exiting the program because it gathered the data it wants, but that they may be interested in working with Isis in the future. What this move could mean is that banks are beginning to lose faith in the near-filed communication (NFC) mobile payment game. At the very least, it’s an indication that the Isis Mobile Wallet wasn’t working for Capital One. Unfortunately, that means it’s probably not working for anyone else. The pilot program was only made available for participants in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Austin, Texas. The pilot is set to expand to the entire country later this year. Capital One could easily jump back on board when that happens, but it doesn’t seem likely. Capital One was one of four financial institutions that signed up for the Isis trials last year. The other three are American Express, Chase, and BarkleyCard.

The Isis Mobile Wallet pilot, and NFC payments in general, have failed to gain much traction with consumers. NFC chips are not being put in many phones. Google seems to still be on board with NFC payments, having put NFC chips in the last few Nexus smartphones. Most other device manufacturers seem hesitant to sign on. Samsung, HTC, Apple, and Nokia have shown little interest in NFC. Google Wallet was just updated yesterday to make the app compatible with devices that don’t have NFC chips. Other mobile payment services like the ones from Square and PayPal don’t rely on NFC for their mobile wallets. Mobile wallets are beginning to use Bluetooth Low Energy, leaving NFC behind. Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T are all backing Isis, but this move by Capital One may be the beginning of the end for the Isis Mobile Wallet and NFC payment programs.