What’s in a name: Isis now Softcard

Isis is now Softcard after a name change to avoid association with a now-infamous militant group. But the digital wallet’s challenges don’t end there.

by. Marc Rapport

After taking the name of an early Egyptian goddess, the telcom-backed digital wallet company Isis has changed its name to Softcard.

The reason for the moniker move is fairly obvious. “In July, we announced that we would rebrand the Isis Wallet to avoid confusion and association with a violent Islamic militant group in the Middle East whose name, when translated into English, is known by the acronym, ISIS,” Softcard CEO Michael Abbott said in his Sept. 3 announcement.

U.S. adoption of NFC-powered apps has been anemic. According to the mobile research firm Yankee Group, only 16% of mobile device owners used their phones to make an in-store purchase between December 2013 and February 2014, and three-fourths of that pool was using it less than five times a month.

But ISIS has had problems above and beyond market interest, says Paul Fiore, founder of the industry-backed mobile wallet CUSO CU Wallet.

“The new name is better than Isis, but I doubt it was their biggest obstacle to consumer adoption,” says Fiore, who is also a co-founder of online banking pioneer Digital Insight. “They started deploying hardware-based NFC systems prior to the software-app distribution marketplace being available, lessening the advantage of a proprietary, native app from carriers or handset manufacturers.”

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