It's with considerable hope that I watch some recent announcements from (and about) Isis, the joint venture of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
First, Isis CEO Michael Abbott has been saying the right things about the "competition" Isis would face from Google Wallet. Instead of putting Google down or dismissing it (as Square's Chief Operating Officer recently did about its NFC competitors), Isis is supportive of its huge competitor, recognizing that Google's success in the market will surely propel the entire segment forward.
Second, Isis is expanding the expected scope of its 2012 rollout from one city (Salt Lake City) to two (Austin, Texas). Reportedly there will be fewer than 1 million phones involved with the rollouts, which sounds extremely ambitious when you consider the two cities have a combined population of 2.8 million.
Third, Isis has been hinting at having three banks involved with their rollout, without naming the banks. However, there have been reports that JP Morgan Chase will be providing a credit account and CapitalOne offering a prepaid card. BarclayCard was part of the of Isis's initial closed-system business plan.
What does it all mean?
In my estimation, these three items point to some acceleration of the realization of NFC mobile payments in the U.S. I've said it before, though: we need to be considering ways to encourage non-payment NFC applications such this NFC building access application for BlackBerry. Just don't expect things to happen immediately. It's going to be a while before there is enough infrastructure to support a robust cellphone-payment ecosystem.
Interested in seeing the numbers?
By the way, I published a forecast for report at GigaOm concerning NFC handsets and a variety of NFC applications, which you can see here... you need to be a member of GigaOM Pro to read the whole thing