"So, we're basically putting all of those transactions on the phone, so all you have to do is wave or tap your phone to the reader and then it recognizes you're a loyalty-program member and it recognizes what coupons you've downloaded and want to use. And this all allows us to better personalize and target what coupons a consumer wants and gets too."
While NFC technology isn't yet built into consumer smartphones, there are "hundreds of thousands" of NFC readers waiting to be used. But Isis' spread toward a national presence will take some time, he said.
"We want to start in Austin and Salt Lake, in two markets, then a few months later maybe go to four markets, then later maybe eight, then 10, then 20," Johnson said. "But that won't all happen in 2012, that'll be spread out over 2013 and beyond."
Isis is launching in Salt Lake and Austin because both cities are full of well-educated, tech-savvy people who aren't afraid to be early adopters of new technology, he said.
"Both cities also have receptive business climates that support new businesses and small businesses and not just the big national chains," Johnson said. "That's important to us because we want Isis to be very dense, to be an option in not just the big national chains but smaller regional and local businesses too. We don't want Isis to be something you can only use in 1 of every 4 purchases, we want it to be more prevalent than that."
The field of NFC mobile payments is heating up, and Isis, which will take a portion of sales revenue when its service is used, isn't the only player looking to cash in big on the emerging technology.
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