With the opportunity to rebrand (the payments firm, not the terrorist organization), ISIS could have gone in a multitude of directions. Alas, yesterday it chose “Softcard,” which is, to quote some friends on LinkedIn, a “horrendous choice.”
Officially, Softcard says the new brand is “a name and visual identity that had the power, flexibility and simplicity to define our category,” according to a TechCrunch report.
Uh, not really. Here’s what Brett King said about it on the Bank Innovation LinkedIn group:
While I understand the imperative for relating to traditional approaches to a Wallet or a card, what these guys are missing is that a phone is not a piece of plastic or a leather pouch – it works differently, it has a different set of rules, expectations and abilities.
The future of payments isn’t about the wallet, the swipe, the tap or authentication. For consumers it is about synergy, context, advice and benefits. ISIS (or Soft Card) are focused on the utility of payments – but that is 1960s thinking (when the mag stripe was invented). It’s time to think about the context of payments.
It’s more than that. While I sympathize with the payments company’s need to quickly pivot from the ISIS name, the “card” portion of its new brand name is anathema to a digital wallet company that wants to help shape the future of payments. “Soft,” meanwhile, might work for Softbank and software, but it is, well, soft and not very “powerful” at all.
“It is really an horrendous choice,” wrote Jean-Stéphane Gourévitch, who is active in the payments space. “At least in Europe, the operators have made an effort with names like Weve, Buyster, etc. … But Softcard [makes] reference to a payment method of the “past”, sounds like Softbank, etc. Really dreadful.”
One FDIC examiner joked, “I thought maybe they should have gone retro with “Pay Phone.” Probably couldn’t license that, though.”