The Egyptian goddess Isis is the mother of us all. The name means ‘Throne’. The first hieroglyphs depicting Isis came from a period about 5,000 years ago. Isis and her brother/husband Osiris became the objects of myths, religions, cults and rituals throughout the Greco/Roman region. Her sibling and marital relationship with her brother was emulated by Pharaohs for centuries.
And now ISIS is poised to be the mother of all Near Field Communication (NFC) virtual wallets. NFC is a decades old technology originally developed by SONY and NXP Semiconductors (Philips NV). It is currently used in Europe and Asia with wireless point of sale terminals. The current initiative by the mobile telcos (AT&T, T-Mobile & Verizon) is to establish dominance over mobile commercial transactions and squeeze out other virtual wallet competitors – e.g. Google, PayPal, the credit card companies, banks, Apple (supposedly iPhone 5 will have NFC capabilities).
With the launch of Google Wallet (with partners Citibank, Mastercard, AMEX and Sprint) on the Samsung Nexus S last week, we’ve officially begun a period of wildly exaggerated claims, consumer confusion and wasteful investment by numerous parties having no realistic chance of successfully competing in the space. The group behind ISIS is supposedly willing to spend $100M to win the hearts and minds of mobile consumers. Who knows how much Google may invest?
One of the winners in this may be VC-backed startup VIVOtech – a supplier of NFC software and systems. When the momentum for a product or service gets to the frenzy stage, it is often a wise move to start following the enabling technology.