According to some early reviews by Stacey Higginbotham of Gigaom, it’s not just Isis’ name that’s based in mythology.
The NFC-based mobile wallet’s long-awaited debut finally took place in Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah last week, after months and months of delays. Higginbotham decided to give Isis a test drive, and the results aren’t pretty for those who believe NFC’s time is now.
Higginbotham’s troubles began right away: her Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III did not support Isis, even though Galaxy S III’s through AT&T and T-Mobile do have Isis support. In fact, Higginbotham notes that Isis currently supports just 11 total handsets, and while she acknowledges that Isis doesn’t need to go compatibility-crazy in markets with just a few million people, it is odd for a company to launch a test accessible to so few people.
But where Isis really fell short in Higginbotham’s estimation was in its consumer and merchant outreach. Higginbotham recounts calling several merchants that Isis listed as participants who said they had either not heard of Isis or who had in fact declined to be a part of the launch.
Higginbotham says an Isis spokesperson reach out to explain that the companies listed on PayWithIsis were from a MasterCard database of contactless payments acceptors, but her conclusion remained the same.
“At best, Isis has some serious merchant outreach and consumer education to do, and at worst the limited number of handsets and lack of knowledge on the merchant side might turn off consumers who are eager to trade in their wallet for their smartphone,” she said.
So once she secured a phone was able to use Isis’ wallet, what did Higginbotham think Isis got right? She described Isis as easier to use than cash, but more difficult to use than a credit card. Aside from an unnecessary “Ok” screen that pops up after a transaction, she dubs the overall process as “smooth.”
Higginbotham is willing to give Isis a chance, saying, “depending on where you live and where you shop you may think it’s awesome.” But overall, her review of Isis’ launch is one of decided disappointment.
“I can’t get this service on my phone, and I’m not sure I’m terribly upset,” Higginbotham wrote. “Not enough places accept contactless payments for me to be secure dumping my wallet, and it’s not so convenient that I’d see myself using it over a credit card.”