They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but mobile wallet app Isis would beg to differ. AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile US Inc (NYSE:TMUS) have spent the last couple of years pushing their mobile wallet with fairly limited success, so most people had never heard of Isis until the terrorist organization ISIS started rolling through Iraq last month, claiming part of western Iraq and eastern Syria as its new caliphate.
Isis now ‘synonymous with violence’
“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,” said Isis CEO Michael Abbott, reports Chris Welch for The Verge. “Changing a brand is never easy, but we know this is the right decision – for our company, our partners and our customers.”
ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or ISIL, swapping Syria for the Levant in the name), was founded last year as one of many rebel groups in the Syrian civil war, but it didn’t become widely known in the US until recently. The group has publicized mass killings and other human rights abuses in Iraq and Syria, and has been reportedly disowned by Al-Qaeda because of its brutal tactics, and reignited the US debate over the war in Iraq.
Isis needs to start rebranding soon
Falling behind the terrorist group in Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) search results (and in the case of this author’s search results the ancient Egyptian god and some post-metal band from Cali) is actually reason enough to switch names, but there’s also room for real confusion in the news. Case in point, when ISIS made headlines earlier today for embracing Bitcoin it really could have been referring to either group, the terrorist network looking for a way to move funds or the digital payment system looking to attract new customers (note: it was the terrorists, or someone impersonating them).
No word on what the mobile wallet app will rebrand itself as, and Isis will continue operating under its current name until something new is settled on, but the company will want to move quickly. If it finally breaks through and becomes a more popular payment method among consumers, references to the Isis surge, taking Starbucks by storm, and the like will simply be too much for headline writers to resist.