The Isis Mobile Wallet, a portable payment system that is a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc., and T-Mobile US Inc., announced today on its website that it will be rebranding by changing its name to Softcard in order to avoid associations with the Islamic State terrorist group by the same name. Isis CEO Michael Abbott says, “However coincidental, we have no desire to share a name with this group.” The company’s homepage notes, “It’s a different name for the same great way to pay.” The name change has been in the works for nearly two months.
Isis Mobile Wallet, soon to be known as Softcard, allows users to securely store financial information in the electronic wallet and pay for purchases through a tap on the phone. Their website states that participating credit cards include American Express, Wells Fargo and Chase. Abbot said that current users will experience no changes when in the next few weeks the updated Softcard app is launched.
New mobile payment systems are springing up everywhere. The most recent company to enter the market is Amazon, with its Amazon Wallet, which at this point only stores gift and reward cards that can be scanned when making purchases. Apple Passbook performs similar functions, but has the added capability of storing coupons, boarding passes, event tickets and other types of mobile payments. Google Wallet is a “virtual wallet service” that is attempting to replace conventional wallets. Credit and debit cards are connected to the app and their bar code scanned at the time of purchase. PayPal’s app also has the goal of replacing the wallet, with the ability to use bank accounts for purchases.
The Isis-Softcard name change comes about a week before Apple may unveil the details of its new mobile payment service. It is expected that the Apple system might include integrations with American Express, Visa, MasterCard and possibly even PayPal for in-store payments using a smartphone.
ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is a terrorist group that has assumed control of large areas of Iraq and Syria. It originated in the terrorist Sunni organization al Qaeda. They have been in world headlines for the past few months, particularly with the recent public execution of James Foley, the American journalist. Video of Foley’s beheading was circulated by the terrorist group on social media. The rebranding of the Mobile Wallet app to Softcard seeks to distance the company from any perceived association with the terrorist group to avoid confusion.
The Isis Wallet app works on select Android or iPhone models. The website touts it as being safer than traditional wallets because of being PIN protected, and having the capability to call the mobile carrier to freeze the entire account in case the phone is lost or stolen. Abbot says when the company started four years ago they searched for a name that could embody the vision of using mobile phones to help users find safer and better ways to shop.
The original Isis was an Egyptian goddess worshiped as the patroness of magic and nature who was an important representation of the power of the pharaoh. Now that the name has become associated with a terrorist group rather than a powerful mythical figure, the company has sought to disassociate itself to avoid confusion with ISIS militants by the upcoming rebranding of their mobile wallet under the Softcard name. The change will take effect in the next few weeks.
By Beth A. Balen