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Google Wallet Gets a Run for its Money

So far, contenders to Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) mobile payment application haven’t really posed much of a threat to the search giant’s dominance in the space.

Isis is another story, though.

I’ve mentioned before that Isis – a joint venture between Verizon (NYSE: VZ), AT&T (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile – is the biggest competitor that Google Wallet will face this year.

In short, Isis is almost exactly like Google Wallet. Meaning it relies on an NFC chip to perform point-of-sale transactions and stores credit card information, loyalty cards and special offers for one-step integration at checkout.

Plus, it requires users to enter a PIN code to make a payment, so Isis essentially offers the same level of security you’d find in Google Wallet.

But unfortunately for Google, Isis’ benefits don’t stop there…  And based on how the app is shaping up ahead of its launch, Isis isn’t just preparing to compete with Google. It’s ready to wipe the floor with it.

Here are four reasons why…

~ Reason 1: Subscriber Exposure: With three top wireless carriers on board, Isis will launch to over 200 million potential users. Officially, Google’s only mobile payment partner is Sprint (NYSE: S), which gives Wallet exposure to only 55 million subscribers. And if Verizon’s actions to hinder Google Wallet’s availability is any indicator, that likely won’t change any time soon.

~ Reason 2: Device Makers Are Tuned In: Sprint is gearing up to offer 10 new NFC-equipped phones this year, which should help spread the word of Google Wallet.

But Isis received word back in September that HTC (Taiwan: 2498.TW), LG (NYSE: LPL), Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI), Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM), Samsung (SEO: 005930) and Sony (NYSE: SNE) plan on working on Isis-enabled phones.

The device support, on top of the carrier backing, means that Isis could hit the ground running. As Scott Mulloy, Chief Technology Officer of Isis, says:

“Working together with the device makers and our founding mobile carriers, Isis can provide the consumer choice and scale necessary for widespread adoption of mobile commerce.”

~ Reason 3: Superior Support From Banks and Credit Card Companies… Google has partnered with Citigroup (NYSE: C) and Mastercard (NYSE: MA), so those with a Citi Mastercard are able to link their bank accounts directly to the application. If not, then you’re required to add funds to the Google prepaid card provided to each user.

Not a big deal, since it’s relatively painless to keep the card topped off. But linking directly to your credit card is certainly more convenient. And that’s something many Isis users won’t have a problem with, seeing as it’s partnered with all of the major credit card companies, including Mastercard, Visa, American Express (NYSE: AXP) and Discover. It’s also rallied support from Chase (NYSE: JPM), Capital One (NYSE: COF) and Barclays (NYSE: BCS).

~ Reason 4: Payment Terminal Companies Have Signed On… In order to get merchants updating payment technology to accept NFC transactions, Google has partnered with VeriFone (NYSE: PAY). Smart move, considering that VeriFone plans to own the NFC space.

Yesterday, Isis announced that it’s also partnered with VeriFone, but has teamed up with other top payment technology companies, too, including Ingenico, VIVOtech and Equinox Payments.

Let the Best App Win

Needless to say, Isis could likely cream Google Wallet if it launched today.

So what’s the holdup?

VentureBeat learned through a recent interview with Isis CEO, Michael Abbott, that…

“The company is putting the pieces together for a payment network that will last for more than a decade… So [Abbott] sees no need to rush out with a half-baked solution… Isis needs to make sure consumers, merchants, payment companies and its parent carriers are happy with its product.”

Fair enough.

Abbott also told VentureBeat, “There is no mobile wallet war out there,” and that more payment competitors should only help inspire adoption.

I tend to agree. But with the amount of partnerships Isis is accumulating, Google certainly has some catching up to do.

Good investing,

Justin Fritz

Justin Fritz

, Executive Editor

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