What is RCS and What Does it Mean for the Future of A2P Messaging?

Industry insights
July 22, 2019

An excerpt from my softball group chat from this past weekend…

“What day is the game this week?”
“What's up with the green texts John?”
“I got a new phone!”
“John, you low-born scum, you've ruined the group chat.”
“Ugh, we can't even kick him out now.”
“You're off the team, peasant.”

A classic phone-shaming

Perhaps your friends are less colorful than mine, but you might be familiar with the following scenario. Most consumers are now using multiple avenues to communicate with each other. They still use SMS but are steadily moving toward some form of over-the-top (OTT) service like WhatsApp or more commonly in America, iMessage. These OTT services are more intuitive, provide more interactivity and a more attractive display. Some folks are less than pleased when an altering protocol moves them from OTT to SMS.

Essentially my softball chain was mad at John because on SMS we could no longer send cat gifs to each other.

While SMS still dominates application-to-person (A2P) messaging at the moment, OTT is expected to surpass SMS by volume in 2019 with over 4 trillion messages from an active user base that will rise to over 3 billion by 2020.

The problem with OTT in the past has been that most of these standalone services do not speak to each other. iMessage for example, only comes on Apple products. WhatsApp hasn't gained a strong footing in America, Android Messages doesn't work on iOS. Wouldn't it be nice if there was some standardized protocol that would allow all of these factions of device owners to take advantage of this new technology together instead of turning them against each other like warring tribes?

Allow me to introduce Rich Communication Services (RCS) a new kid on the block that is going to be the way that brands communicate with their users moving forward.RCS is the evolution of SMS, the service that most people have referred to over the years as ‘texts.' However, RCS offers lots of new features that brands will find appetizing including…

  • Branding: Name, logo, color
  • Branded SenderID
  • Message types
  • Text Message
  • File Message (Images, videos, GIFs, etc.)
  • Audio Message
  • Rich Card message
  • Standalone and carousel
  • Suggested replies
  • Suggested actions
  • Create calendar event
  • Dial
  • Open URL
  • Share location
  • View Location
  • Delivery, display and composing indications
  • Message revocation

To provide an example of the difference in SMS and RCS for brands in the A2P space let's look at an airline use case. You're probably familiar with a ‘mobile boarding pass.' You will receive something like, this…

SMS: Hello John, click this link for your boarding pass.


RCS message with flight info on the phone

Look at all the extra information provided…branding, a bar code, attractive imagery, interactive predictive responses and of course, it's chock full of information. Not tough to see why brands and users alike prefer it.

What does this mean for brands? A lot. While companies are familiar with sending engaging notes to their users from short-codes via SMS; in a post-SMS world brands could send photos, logos, singing cat emojis and multimedia messages that give more information displayed attractively.

RCS is also already extremely popular. 74% of consumers have noted that they would be more likely to engage with brands over RCS as opposed to SMS. That's fairly compelling data as we all know that increased customer engagement leads to increased value of a user over the entire customer cycle.

RCS is already here, but it grows stronger and more popular every day as more carriers and devices accommodate the emerging technology. Brands are enthusiastic about it, users are excited about it, it's a home run for the future of communication. TeleSign will be bringing RCS to you as well, to optimize the way you connect with your users. As the original phone verification company, we know a thing or two about delivering messages around the globe. The countdown has begun, stay tuned RCS is coming very soon.

To learn more about when you can deploy RCS through TeleSign click here."

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