Isis, the national mobile commerce joint venture between AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, today announced that Visa, MasterCard and American Express will potentially work with Isis, in addition to Discover, to provide payment and transaction services.

The move, and the language, are significant. Isis initially took a direct approach to building a new payments ecosystem that would have competed directly with Visa and MasterCard. The new agreements suggest not only that Isis has changed course towards a potential “wallet” approach, but that the leading transaction networks believe the Isis change of strategy.

Much remains to be done, and the announcement did not include anything concrete, other than a willingness on the part of major transaction clearing and settlement networks to work with Isis, should it prove advantageous.

Still, the announcement ratifies the business model shift Isis has made, from a “payment” role to a “wallet” role, and indicates that major transaction and clearing networks believe the story.

“Visa has long championed an open approach to mobile commerce that allows consumers to choose which account they want to enable for mobile payments,” said Joe Saunders, chief executive officer, Visa Inc. “We are committed to working closely with Isis, handset manufacturers, platform providers and financial institutions to offer consumers a suite of mobile services — mobile payments, coupons tailored to location and lifestyle, real time account information and more.”

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