No cards, no plastic, just your mobile.
Last week I was wondering how likely it is for us to use our mobile phones to pay bills, make reservations, etc. As if in response, a few days later the ISIS initiative was announced in the US which basically covers all my needs as a mobile phone user.
Basically Near Field Communications (NFC) is the name of the game here, or for the future of all mobile devices. In a nutshell, you’re using your mobile phone to transfer information to an NFC device in close vicinity (around 10 centimeters). So for instance wherever you need to make bill payments where a credit/debit card is required, such as supermarkets, restaurants, airports, etc. is where NFC capable mobiles will come in handy. Or even places that use top-up cards such as public transport (busses and metros), etc. Sharing information between NFC enabled mobile phones will simply be a matter of a touch of button, no hunting of a Bluetooth signal or pairing and authorizing will be required. Things will get much simpler and easier.
So what the ISIS represents is a union between AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to build a huge network of information and trade enabled via NFC capable smartphones. This will essentially allow for a more convenient shopping experience for both consumers and retailers. Ideally your mobile phone is used as a credit/debit card to make payments, or any loyalty cards that you would have for various retailers will also not be needed anymore as your shopping info (card numbers, previous shopping history, etc.) is stored on your mobile. These details can not only be used to track your transactions history, but also used by retailers (and yourself) to target specific offers and products suited to your needs.
Of course, there are a lot of security concerns as well, such as information being deleted completely or even manipulated. While the former is not hard to do, with extremely specialized equipment, the latter is virtually impossible. Then again, security risks are also equally considerable on your WiFi connection, so data theft/manipulation over the RF signal on NFC devices is something being treated as importantly as any other wireless data communication.
ISIS is certainly a step in the right direction for how mobile phones will be used in the future. One can only hope that this tech becomes a success and is actually viable for consumers in terms of simplicity and security. NFC can’t become mass market soon enough!