By Olajide Osho-Thomas, Sales Manager at Infobip Nigeria
15 April 2020
The most popular communications channel in many parts of the world – the Short Message Service (SMS) – is rapidly evolving into a technology that businesses can leverage to keep up with the changing demands of today’s connected consumer. The next iteration of this technology, known as Rich Communication Service (RCS), is an advancement that will offer enhanced features to the standard SMS experience. Soon to be native on all mobile devices, this messaging service can now stand shoulder to shoulder with the world’s most popular chat apps.
Despite huge uptake since its introduction in the 1990s, SMS has, up until now, evolved very little unable then to deliver the rich communication experience that today’s smartphones are able to support with other channels, such as WhatsApp. At the same time, customer expectations for engagement with brands and businesses have evolved significantly, with consumers expecting the sharing of information to be as engaging as face-to-face communication.
To satisfy these expectations, RCS delivers enhanced features to the standard SMS platform across mobile devices, which will help businesses engage with customers and build deeper relationships through which better business outcomes can be achieved.
RCS is still a new technology in Nigeria and has thus far only been adopted by one local network operator. However, it is expected that all network operators in the country will launch RCS in the near future, which will open up a significant market for the technology.
Currently, Nigeria has more than 172 million mobile subscribers, which is a penetration rate of 87% of the country’s population, while more than 112 million Nigerians had access to the Internet in 2018, representing 56% of the population. Considering that most of Nigeria’s network operators are making significant investments to increase their coverage, user access to RCS is expected to grow massively.
The development of RCS has largely been driven by its ability to provide a far richer media experience, similar to what is currently seen on chat apps such as WhatsApp. As a result, users can send pictures, videos, audio, emojis, memes, and texts, while also being able to exchange files, share locations, and create group chats, all with an advanced and more visual user experience.
However, another key driver of RCS technology in Nigeria is the fact that the SMS platform is strictly regulated by government, in a bid to curb widespread spam and fraud. Regulatory measures include volume regulations, which means that sending multiple messages to the same address in the same day will see them blocked. Less strict regulations are expected to govern the use of RCS messaging, however, while there are fewer limitations, mobile network operators will be committed to ensuring excellence throughout.
RCS has huge potential to bolster business communication, with distinct advantages over SMS and certain other messaging and chat apps. SMS only caters for basic communication, while certain other messaging and chat apps won’t allow promotional messages to be sent. Here, RCS is more flexible in this regard, as it allows for the transmission of promotional and transactional content, and has anti-spam measures built in.
In the messaging ecosystem, RCS is a channel that is crucial to delivering value to enterprises by taking the complexity of multi-vendor and multi-application set up and maintenance out of the equation by providing a single interface, via a portal or an API, to manage an enterprise’s communication needs.
However, RCS will require connectivity over the infrastructure of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to unlock it full value. There needs to be an industry push for MNOs to enable and adopt RCS by engaging with our sales force and exploring use cases that will encourage them to move faster. Once this happens, we expect to see a significant shift towards this channel that delivers a host of business benefits.