BY KARISSA BELL
Most startups will agree that there's no such thing as bad publicity when it comes to your app. But what do you do when your app happens to share a name with a violent terror group that's on a rampage in Iraq and threatening the entire Middle East?
That's the problem facing Isis, a mobile payments company whose digital wallet app happens to share a name with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, which is shortened to either ISIS or ISIL. The company's CEO announced Monday that the app would be undergoing a rebrand, in order to ensure they would not be associated with the terror group.
"However coincidental, 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," Isis CEO Michael Abbott wrote in a blog post. "As a company, we have made the decision to rebrand. Changing a brand is never easy, but we know this is the right decision –- for our company, our partners and our customers."
The company launched its iOS and Android wallet apps last year. The apps have already had a difficult time finding success in an increasingly crowded mobile payments space — even before the name crisis — likely because they only work with certain types of devices and specific carriers.
Like many mobile payment apps, Isis relies on NFC (near field communication) to trigger its remote payments, meaning it only works with Android devices while iPhone users are required to buy a separate NFC-enabled iPhone case in order to use the app. Additionally, only AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon support it.
Given the range of issues the company's team is facing, a rebrand may end up being the best thing that could have happened to them. They will get a (yet unannounced) new name and a chance at a fresh start— something which many startups don't always get.