Three rival mobile service providers are teaming up to build a national commerce network, one that eventually hopes to turn cell phones into pseudo debit cards.

The network will be called Isis, and it is a joint venture of AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. The initial focus, the companies say, will be to build a mobile payment network, one that utilizes mobile phones to make point-of-sale purchases. The Isis venture will use smartphone and near-field communication (NFC) technology.

Our mobile commerce network, through relationships with merchants, will provide an enhanced, more convenient, more personalized shopping experience for consumers, Michael Abbott, Chief Executive Officer of Isis, said in a statement. 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.

Abbott, formerly of GE Capital, was named head of the new venture because of his experience in the payment and technology industries, as well as his previous standing as a financial services executive.

Two hundred million consumers will have access to Isis' service, the companies say. They will also work with Discover Financial Services' payment network to develop the mobile payment infrastructure. The companies expect Barclaycard US, part of Barclays PLC, to be the first issuer on the mobile network.

We believe the venture will have the scope and scale necessary to introduce mobile commerce on a broad basis. In the beginning, we intend to fully utilize Discover's national payment infrastructure as well as Barclaycard's expertise in contactless and mobile payments, Abbott said. Moving forward, Isis will be available to all interested merchants, banks and mobile carriers.

NFC technology uses short-range, high frequency wireless technology which allows for the encrypted exchange of information between devices at a short distance. This will allow the contactless mobile payment system to operate efficiently.