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Wells Fargo makes push into mobile payments with Isis partnership

Consumers that have a Wells Fargo Visa will be able to pay, redeem coupons and present loyalty credentials via the Isis mobile application. Wells Fargo is testing the mobile wallet to learn what its consumers want and how they like to make payments.

“When reviewing the various mobile wallet providers, the top-of-mind qualifications were: payment safety, quality of service and ease of use for our customers,” said Peter Ho, manager of digital payments for the consumer financial services group at Wells Fargo, San Francisco. “Isis has a strong offering in those areas, as well as access to the largest number of handsets, representing a significant portion of the U.S. cellular market.

“Beyond making a payment, this technology enables other services we think our customers will enjoy, like the ability to use the Isis wallet for coupons and loyalty or rewards program information,” he said.

“Wells Fargo’s mobile wallet strategy is to test various approaches with consumers and merchants in order to obtain their feedback. The services we are looking at inside and outside of the bank are not just about payments, they are about improving the overall commerce experience for consumers and merchants.”

Mobile wallet
The Isis mobile wallet was launched last year as pilot in Austin, TX, and Salt Lake City. The digital wallet uses NFC technology to enable mobile payments.

There are more than 50 Isis-ready smartphones from AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon Wireless. Consumers with these phones can receive an enhanced SIM card from their wireless carrier.

Then they can download the Isis mobile wallet appliction for free in Google Play.

According to Isis, there are hundreds of thousands of merchant locations nationwide that accept contactless payments.

Wells Fargo consumers will have the protection of Wells Fargo’s Zero Liability program when they make a purchase with Isis. The program provides cardholders with zero liability if their Wells Fargo Credit Card is lost, stolen or used without authorization and cardholders promptly notify Wells Fargo.

Cardholders will now be able to remotely freeze the Isis Mobile Wallet if they are concerned.

Isis backing
Wells Fargo is joining an evolving list of banks that are joining forces with Isis.

American Express and Chase have already partnered with Isis, giving their backing to the mobile payment solution (see story).

At the same time, some financial institutions such as Capital One are puling their support (see story).

Isis is also facing challenges because NFC seems to be struggling. Apple still has not integrated NFC capabilities into its phones, and the majority of merchants do not have contactless terminals (see story).

However, Isis seems to be powering forward and trying to overcome these obstacles, looking to both financial and retailer partners. Jamba Juice and McDonald’s are two merchants that have already partnered with Isis.

“[The partnership is] meaningful for Isis for a couple of different reasons,” said Jaymee Johnson, head of marketing at Isis. “First, they are one of the leading banks in America and among the most innovative and so it’s meaningful in terms of the additional scale.

“Those are customers that are used to innovation being brought by Wells Fargo and therefore perhaps a more likely candidate to really embrace the mobile wallet early,” he said. “And I think it’s also significant for the industry more generally. You’re really seeing a critical mass forming of the leading banks in the U.S. rallying around the Isis platform and so for us that is encouraging.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York