What is RCS Messaging? The Current State of Reach, Payments, Encryption and More

By: 3C The Messenger – June 11, 2019

We recently sat down with our Director of Product Management & Partner Channels, Ramy Riad, as part of our “What is RCS Messaging” series, to find answers to some of the more popular and interesting RCS questions. Ramy is an active member of the GSMA’s Global Functional Requirements Group (GFRG) for RCS—a committee that is instrumental in the formation of new features for Universal Profile. In addition to his role in the GFRG, Ramy travels around the world to evangelize the important opportunity of RCS and is viewed as a thought leader in RCS carrier deployments.

Here’s what Ramy had to say:

As of today, who can use RCS and what devices are RCS-enabled?

RR: As of today, in the US, RCS business messaging is live on Sprint, AT&T, and US Cellular. AT&T subscribers using Samsung Galaxy A6, S7, S7 Active, S9, Note9, and S10 can take advantage of RCS business messaging. Sprint currently supports all non-Samsung Android devices including Google Pixel, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Devices beginning to roll out on the Sprint network. US Cellular also supports all non-Samsung Android devices. We estimate there are nearly 10 million RCS business messaging-enabled devices in the US today.

GSMA Global Forecast for RCS Growth

                                               Figure 1: GSMA Global Forecast for RCS Growth

 

What will payments mean to RCS and when do you expect to see payments rolled out?

RR: Payments will play a great role in RCS as it will allow the user to complete a transaction seamlessly within the messaging application without having to leave the conversation with a chatbot and go to a separate website or app. We are hoping to see more support for payments within RCS in the next iteration of the Universal Profile specification.

At 3C, we’re exploring some interesting use cases involving payments that will allow RCS users to seamlessly process payments within an RCS workflow on behalf of our enterprise clients.

 

There has been a lot of talk lately about the security of messaging applications. Is RCS encrypted?

RR: RCS encryption is a very important topic for 3Cinteractive. A lot of our enterprise customers ask us about the security of the channel and the privacy of the data that is passed to the user and from the user back to the enterprise. RCS messaging is very secure from a standards perspective and has been implemented using the latest security technologies we are able to support in the messaging channel. We believe it’s an enhancement over SMS security where it allows sender verification, brand verification, and it allows for the security of messages for peer-to-peer communication as well. It is governed and managed by the operators, therefore it falls under high scrutiny and regulation to ensure the end-user communication of RCS messaging is safe.

 

Is RCS a better messaging option than OTT messaging apps?

RR: RCS is a great alternative to OTT messaging apps. If you compare RCS messaging to the OTT messaging apps out there, you’ll see it’s a carrier-grade channel for users and enterprises with the ubiquity of reach and features to all users. It also offers a feature parity with all the other OTT messaging applications on the market. RCS is powering a lot of enterprises to reach consumers in a safe, rich and effective way that does not spam the user and is governed and regulated by operators and industry bodies worldwide.

RCS is treated the same way as other communication channels that require opt-in for subscriber communication. If a subscriber opts out, the RCS chatbots will remove the subscriber from those communications.

Also, operators do not use RCS as a means to monetize the data from your interactions. Some OTT apps may use that data for other advertising purposes or enhancing their internal logic but, from a standards perspective, RCS does not use or sell user data.

 

RCS looks and feels a lot like a native app. Do you think RCS will impact how much brands invest in their native applications?

RR: As RCS reach expands over the next year, we’re going to see more brands that are interested in RCS and grow their chatbot presence. This growth will allow some simpler app processes and transactions, such as notifications and alerts, to be extended to RCS, but I don’t think it will completely replace the app. However, with increasing adoption, more carriers launching RCS, and new features being added to Universal Profile, it could certainly be an interesting trend to watch out for.

3C

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