Mobile payments upstart Isis rebrands to distance itself from extremist group

A new name is planned for the coming weeks

Both ISIS and Google Wallet work on the same principle: you download a dedicated app from the Google Play Store, connect your e-wallet to your bank account or credit card, and then tap to pay at a number of retailers equipped with either the MasterCard PayPass or Visa PayWave terminals

Both ISIS and Google Wallet work on the same principle: you download a dedicated app from the Google Play Store, connect your e-wallet to your bank account or credit card, and then tap to pay at a number of retailers equipped with either the MasterCard PayPass or Visa PayWave terminals

Isis, a mobile payments service that has struggled to gain traction despite the backing of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, is now working toward a new name to avoid association with the Sunni militant group formerly known as ISIS.

Isis, the company, said Monday it was launching a rebranding effort to avoid any association with the extremist group now known as Islamic State. Active in Iraq and Syria, the group aims to gain religious control over Muslims.

The group's previous name, ISIS, stood for one of several things depending on the translation: "Islamic State of Iraq and Levant," "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" or "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham."

A Google search for "Isis" returns a number of news articles related to ISIS' recent actions, in addition to the company's site.

"However coincidental, we have no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence," said Michael Abbott, chief executive of Isis, in a statement.

A new name and logo are planned for the coming weeks. An Isis spokesman declined to comment further.

Carriers like AT&T and Verizon have helped to develop Isis. The technology uses near-field communication, or NFC, in people's smartphones to let them make payments by waving their device in front of readers in retail stores.

The technology has not taken off, partly due to competitors like Google Wallet, and also the lack of readers in stores. Apple's iPhone also currently does not support NFC.

Isis' Abbott said the company remained committed to growing the mobile payments ecosystem.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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