Google 'in talks' to buy THAT group, y'know, the one formerly known as ISIS

Will it be all-out war on Apple?

Google may be looking to buy struggling mobile payments firm Softcard, industry scuttlebutt suggests.

The Chocolate Factory is reported to have been snooping around Softcard with an eye to acquiring it for an undisclosed sum of cash that may be less than $100m.

Readers may remember Softcard as the mobile payments company formerly known as ISIS. It was created in 2010 as a joint venture between US mobile carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. After a few years of development and pilot programs, it went nationwide in 2013 but has yet to catch on with consumers.

ISIS changed its name to Softcard in July 2014 to avoid any associations with the Islamic militant outfit that has occasionally been known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying it had "no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence."

The rebrand did little to help with Softcard's real problem, however, which is competing with such better-established rivals as Google Wallet, PayPal, and – more recently – Apple Pay.

Dancing around such well-heeled competitors seems to have taken its toll on Softcard. Earlier this week it announced that it would restructure – including cutting around 60 jobs – amid rumors that its three founding carriers may be looking to pull out of the venture.

"This includes simplifying the company's organizational structure and consolidating all operations into its Dallas and New York offices," Softcard said in a statement, "which involves layoffs across the company."

Being absorbed by Google would likely spell the end of the Softcard brand, clearing the way for Google Wallet to become a bigger player in the payments field – and for Google to go head-to-head against Apple, which has managed to vault itself to prominence in the payments biz via a series of crafty business deals.

Google may also be interested in Softcard's portfolio of approximately 120 patents and its existing industry partnerships.

Neither Google nor Softcard would comment on the rumors, which first appeared on the TechCrunch blog. ®

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