A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to beta-test a new app—Isis Mobile Wallet—for AT&T. Because the app is currently only available for Android phones, I was also given a brand-new Samsung Galaxy SIII to do my testing on. Being a life-long Apple product user—literally, my Mom worked at Apple when I was born—I had a bit of a learning curve with both the app and the phone.
The app’s name pretty much explains what it is—a mobile wallet. If you have it on your phone (it’s free to download), you can upload credit card information and, if you shop at a place that accepts Isis's "tap-and-go" payments, use your cards to pay, without having to use your actual, physical card. (When you pay, funds are taken directly out of the account you chose to pay with.) The app comes pre-loaded with an Isis Cash Card, which works like a Visa gift card and can be reloaded.
J.P. Morgan, the bank behind the app, gave the other beta-testing bloggers and me $10 for signing up and another $15 for upgrading the Cash Card to reloadable. (It seems like this promotion will go out to everyone who uses the app, but don’t quote me on that.) AT&T then gave us $100 in additional Isis money to spend on whatever we wanted, provided we blogged about it afterward. (Free phone and free money? Heck yes!)
Getting everything set-up didn’t exactly go perfectly—my account information transferred from my iPhone 4 to the Galaxy SIII easily, and I downloaded the app without a hitch—but the “upgrading the Isis Cash Card to reloadable” in order to get the additional $115 took a phone call to Isis’ customer support. They were super helpful, however, and the issue (on their end) was soon sorted.
Once I had the money, it took me about a week to spend any of it—the app’s not accepted at a lot of places yet, and I was trying to come up with something that would make for a more interesting blog post than my just buying random things. While in Macy’s, however, after falling hard for a pair of shoes on the clearance rack, I realized that through the app I had access to coupons that would give me even more money off. (Sold.)
When I went to use the app to pay, the man behind the counter had no idea what I was talking about. I went through the simple steps to turn on the coupon and the payment card, and paid anyway. It worked on the third try, or so I thought … the coupon hadn’t gone through (possibly because of user error). I took everything to the Customer Service counter and the 10% was refunded to the card, but it took until the next morning for the return to show up in the app.
(You can check out photos of my other purchases on this post on my personal blog, if you’re interested.)
I wasn’t sure what to spend the rest of my money on until my mom suggested that, in honor of the current time of the year, I try out the app at Whole Foods and spend some of my money on charitable causes (and some snacks). Paying at Whole Foods was easy, even when I was $.18 over the amount left on the Cash Card. (I had enough spare change in my wallet to pay the remainder, thankfully.)
Overall, I think the app has promise. I like the fact that it makes paying a breeze (mostly) and includes offers and coupons built in. I worry about security issues, but the app would actually be harder to use (due to a PIN and security questions) if it were to get stolen than if the same thing happened to a card.
I don’t know how much I’ll use the app now that the test has run its course—and I’ve run out of free money—but that’s only because it’s currently Android-only, and, like I said above, I am a total Apple fangirl. I did, however hear that Isis might be coming to iPhones in the near future, and I would definitely like to give it another try when I have the opportunity.
Learn more about Isis at www.paywithisis.com.
Disclaimer: I (Mandy) was contacted by M80 to write a blog post on behalf of AT&T. Per FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that, for my participation, I was given a Samsung Galaxy SIII mobile phone and $100 on a pre-paid gift card to spend at my discretion.