Isis, the mobile payments and commerce venture, said it will rebrand itself as "Softcard" to disassociate itself from the extremist Islamist militant group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS. The company expects the rebranding to happen over the next few weeks as it updates its mobile wallet application.
The mobile payments group announced in July it would change its name. Since then, ISIS has continued to conduct violent attacks in Iraq and Syria, and gained widespread attention by releasing videotaped beheadings of two American journalists held by the group as captives, James Foley and more recently Steven Sotloff.
"Our search for a new name has been rooted in our founding vision: to use the power of the mobile phone to help consumers find a safer and better way to shop, pay and save," Softcard CEO Michael Abbott wrote in a company blog post. "But we also wanted a name and visual identity that had the power, flexibility and simplicity to define our category."
Abbott added that the company has "no desire to share a name with this group [ISIS] and our hearts go out to those affected by this violence."
"Together with a simple and flexible visual system, the inherent simplicity of Softcard gives it the potential to become a category defining name," Abbott wrote. "That's a bold aspiration, but one that matches the breadth of our vision."
Softcard is backed by Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), and was founded in November 2010. The company officially launched nationwide in November 2013.
Abbott wrote that users' current Isis Wallet will continue to work as it always has and that in the next few weeks the company will launch the updated Softcard app. At that point, users can update their apps as they normally would and see the change. "We appreciate your patience as we work through this effort," he added. "Because we've chosen to move swiftly, small traces of Isis will be visible for a short time."
Abbott did not give any updates on the state of the company's mobile payments and commerce business. On May 14, the company said that on average it had activated more than 20,000 mobile wallets per day in the preceding 30 days, giving it at least 600,000 members during that period. Since then the company has been silent on its operational progress.
The mobile payments market is expected to get a jolt next week. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has reportedly reached deals with Visa, MasterCard and American Express for its mobile payments program it is expected unveil alongside the next iPhone on Sept. 9.
Last week, reports emerged that the next iPhone, expected to be dubbed the iPhone 6, will contain support for Near Field Communications technology for mobile payments for the first time. According to a Financial Times report, Apple is working with Dutch chipset specialist NXP Semiconductors on the NFC solution. Apple also reportedly wants to launch a mobile wallet without giving up any control to wireless carriers, which would represent a blow to Softcard's business model.
- see this Isis blog post
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