Sprint, the third largest teleco in the U.S., may be planning to launch its own NFC-enabled mobile wallet, called “Touch,” as early as this summer, undisclosed sources have told NFC Times.
The move would pit Sprint against a number of competitors in the tightening mobile wallet race, including PayPal, carrier-led Isis, and Google, which currently depends on Sprint as the sole carrier backing its Google Wallet service.
According to NFC Times, launching Touch would enable Sprint to build relationships with banks and other service providers – something the carrier is not in control of with its Google Wallet partnership. Should the carrier launch its own wallet, it would likely have to drop Google Wallet, as both services require control of the secure element.
“The limitation isn’t the wallet; the limitation is the secure element,” said a source at Sprint, adding that Touch would pose a “legitimate alternative to Isis.”
According to the source, Sprint is reportedly in the process of signing up banks and service providers, and has hired Silicon Valley-based trusted service manager Sequent Software.
“Sprint has a pretty robust developer ecosystem that [Isis] doesn’t have,” added another U.S. telecom industry source. “I don’t know for sure, but they will leverage that developer ecosystem to have a more open use of NFC in phones, as compared with Isis, which is not open by any means.”
Sprint, which was an Isis partner along with T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon before dropping out in 2010, said in a statement that it has “no news to share” about Touch or any other mobile wallet projects.
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