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MEF’s Mobile Messaging Fraud Report 2016  reveals the extent to which spam and phishing (SMiShing) across chat apps and SMS are pestering consumers around the world.

26 per cent of chat app users get an unsolicited message every day, while 49 per cent receive at least one a week. With SMS its 28 per cent every day with 58 per cent receiving one a week.

And while SMS is still the most trusted messaging channel, 33 per cent indicated that they had received a SMiShing message aimed at tricking them in to divulging personal data such as bank details or passwords for online services.

We asked MEF members and the wider mobile community for their thoughts.

Silvio Kutic, CEO at Infobip

For businesses, finding a balance between SMS, chat apps, and other communications channels means they can expand their reach and focus on designing relevant, multi-channel consumer communications – those aimed at building consumer trust. Chat apps are gaining importance in business messaging, and messaging companies now provide OTT integration as part of the omnichannel approach to consumer engagement.

Unsolicited messaging will be an issue, but it shouldn’t discredit the entire messaging channel. In many cases, spam is a result of a lack of insight into consumer preferences and habits. A properly executed engagement program should result in zero spam.

Silvio Kutic_CEO_Infobip_Sept 2016


Relevance is not only about appropriate messaging and content. It also means choosing, prioritising and switching between devices and channels based on consumer preference and context. Opportunities and technologies for that kind of approach are expanding, and the most successful brands and businesses will be the first ones to adopt them.

Erhan Donmez, Roaming and Mobile Services Director at Türk Telekom International

The balance between SMS and chat applications is crucial for an operator. While mobility and mobile application usage is growing rapidly, P2P SMS traffic is going down as there are more chat applications in the market. Negative side effect for a mobile operator is SMS income, but as there’s increasing smartphone penetration it’s natural to experience this decline in SMS usage while there’s big growth in data usage.

SMS service still plays key role in commmunicating campaigns to end users and also in application generated messaging (A2P) commonly used by OTT players, social networks, financial institutions and airline companies for various purposes, eg. Registration and activation, authentication, check-in info etc. A2P SMS is growing as this is perceived as the most effective and reliable communication by enterprises.

Erhan Donmez


Our market is regulated in campaign messaging and only end users who give consent to the relevant enterprise for receiving campaign messages can receive campaign SMSs from those brands. This consent should be requested by the enterprise from its end users. The same applies to the mobile operators.

This is crucial because there is an increased number of customer complaints about spam SMSs. Spam SMS erodes customer trust because customers would think that his/her mobile operator is sharing his/her personal info with enterprises hence they would feel insecure. If the customer loses its trust to his/her operator, it would be very challenging to win back this customer. Therefore mobile operators are very careful in applying regulation rules of campaign messaging

Mike Foreman, European Managing Director, Nuro Secure Messaging

SmiShing has long been a bugbear for mobile users. The problem is escalating as scammers look to exploit group chat apps like WhatsApp or iMessage as incidents like the WhatsApp Gold scam have shown. To counter this, businesses must encourage staff to only use chat apps that put privacy and control first.

When it comes to spam there’s a major difference between what consumers and businesses will tolerate. Most consumers seem content to allow providers of free OTT services to play fast and loose with their personal data for profit. But for a business the consequences may be far more serious. According to the FBI fake CEO scams now account for crime worth $3.1bn and has already cost more than one CEO their job.

Mike Foreman%2c European Managing Director%2c Nuro Secure Messaging


Attempting to cure the spam problem with tighter regulation is unlikely to work. Regulation takes years and is always behind the curve. Spammers and hackers are well ahead of it. What is crucial is that any regulatory reform puts the interests of the end-user first. Services, regardless of who supplies them, should continue to deliver the best possible security, privacy and value for the customer.

Jonathan Parker-Bray, CEO, Pryvate

With over 4 billion active SMS users in the world and on average, a text message is opened within 15 minutes of reception, the opportunity for SMiShing is huge. People are used to receiving SMS even from people or businesses they do not know. It’s easy to get someone to either reply or call and get lured in some social engineering scam or click a link with the promise for cash/coupon reward while the real reason is getting your data.

In short, it’s easy and can be done as close to anonymous as possible. The threat of SMiSing is huge because SMS phishing is easy. It can be done from anywhere in the world. It can be done from an SMS server of a phone. It can be sent to 1 user or 1,000. It is cheap and hidden in plain view.

Jonathan Parker Bray_2016


Mark Windle, Strategy and Marketing Director, Security Solutions, at Xura

Overall, SMS marketing is an effective and trusted method of targeted outreach designed to generate monetizable interactions and transactions. While operators can earn billions in revenue from mobile marketing, it’s little surprise that criminals are doing their best to avoid paying for the benefits that SMS marketing brings.

It’s important that operators understand the damage this fraudulent activity can also do to their relationships with customers, and the threats this can pose to their network, bottom line, brand, reputation, and legal position with regard to compliance and regulations.

If they hope to combat these threats, operators must maintain a strong back-end infrastructure, with comprehensive network control and protection, which must relentlessly and continuously evolve to prevent criminals from abusing their networks.

Mark Windle - Profile picture


Most importantly though, by ensuring their knowledge of the threat is kept up to date, operators will be in a stronger position to navigate the increasingly complex and dynamic volume of scams, spam and fraud attempts and put the necessary precautions in place.

Matt Hunt, CEO of Apadmi Enterprise

With the significant rise in popularity of chat apps, such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, security is becoming a key concern. Regulation of these apps is currently proving to be very difficult, as most consumer chat apps are cloud-based, and therefore are not subject to strict regulations or high data security. This can result in users receiving large amounts of spam, and can also make these apps particularly vulnerable to hacking.

This brings up the issue of consumer trust, which is always essential in such a competitive market. Businesses need to ensure they are providing a high quality customer experience and are protecting their consumers against receiving vast amounts of spam when using chat apps, or they risk damaging the trust they have with their users.

Matt Hunt (2)


Text messaging, however, is much safer and more secure than using chat apps, as SMS spam is subject to strict regulations by carriers and the telecommunications industry. SMS messages aren’t vulnerable to hacking in the same way that a chat app is.

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Download the free MEF Messaging eBulletin now

Download our first quarterly Messaging eBulletin which takes a look at some of the issues being tackled by MEF’s Future of Messaging Programme including contributions from Aditya Dhruva, Head of Messaging and Broadband at Mahindra Comviva discussing the challenge of revenue leakage and Robert Gerstmann’s, MD for CLX Enterprise Division, analysis of the recently published MEF Messaging Fraud Report.

The eBulletin also includes news, stats and A2P market forecasts and analysis from Mobilesquared’s Chief Insight Analyst, Nick Lane, whilst MEF’s COO, Joanne Lacey, looks at another, much-hyped, driver of engagement via messaging – conversational commerce.