Three major US wireless carriers have announced a joint venture dubbed Isis that will allow customers to pay for goods and services with their mobile phones. Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, and T-Mobile USA want to compete with credit card companies by using near-field communications (NFC) technology.

NFC allows a person to wave their phone in front of a scanner to pay for purchases. It uses short-range, high frequency wireless technology to enable the encrypted exchange of information between devices at a short distance. The new system is being built to include security and privacy safeguards.

By working together, the three networks have a potential customer-base of over 200 million. Isis plans to launch in "key geographic markets" in the next 18 months. Here's the description from the Isis website: "The Isis mobile wallet will eliminate the need to carry cash, credit and debit cards, reward cards, coupons, tickets and transit passes, fundamentally changing how you shop, pay and save. All with your phone."

Isis is working with Discover Financial Services' payment network, which is currently accepted at more than seven million merchant locations nationwide, to develop an extensive mobile payment infrastructure. Barclaycard US is expected to be the first issuer on the network, offering multiple mobile payment products.

"Our mobile commerce network, through relationships with merchants, will provide an enhanced, more convenient, more personalized shopping experience for consumers," Michael Abbott, Isis CEO, said in a statement. "While mobile payments will be at the core of our offering, it is only the start. We plan to create a mobile wallet that ultimately eliminates the need for consumers to carry cash, credit and debit cards, reward cards, coupons, tickets and transit passes."