Isis, the mobile wallet platform backed by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon here in the U.S., has decided to rebrand after its name became synonymous with “ISIS,” an Islamic militant group linked to sectarian violence against civilians and government forces in Iraq and Syria, the company is announcing today.
That the two organizations share a name is entirely coincidental, but it’s not been great for Isis (the wallet), in terms of either public perception or general SEO.
The company doesn’t have a replacement name picked out at this time, it says, but will introduce the new brand in the “coming months.”
The mobile platform includes a free wallet app for iOS and Android devices that lets consumers pay at point-of-sale via NFC chips built into their mobile handsets, or by using select “Isis Ready” NFC cases designed for the NFC-less iPhone. The wallet today supports a limited number of credit cards, including those from American Express/Amex Serve, Chase, and Wells Fargo. (Amex is also an investor.)
Formed in 2010, Isis has not really taken off in the U.S., not only because Apple has yet to introduce an NFC-supported iPhone, but also because NFC is not accepted everywhere, and it faces a number of competitors – including Google Wallet and the banks themselves, who have been realizing they don’t need mobile operator partners to retain control of their customers.
In a statement released today by Isis CEO Michael Abbott, the company says it originally chose the brand “Isis” because they wanted a name that “brought to life our company and our values.”
“Above all, we wanted a brand that captured the simplicity of our mobile wallet experience,” he says.
“Recently, we have observed with growing concern a militant group whose name, when translated into English, is Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – often referenced by the acronym ISIS,” he explains. “We have no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence and our hearts go out to those who are suffering,” he adds.
The company is now actively working on a new brand, but stresses that the business focus and consumer experience will remain the same going forward — this is a name change alone.
Ironically, the rebranding decision from the mobile operators comes after ISIS (the militant group) rebranded itself from its earlier name, also known as the “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham,” to just “Islamic State.”