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Highlighted by MEF’s Global Board as a key trend to watch in 2019, we discuss the future of Rich Communication Services with analysts, brands, networks and participants from MEF’s Future of Messaging Programme including Vodafone, XConnect, Telenor, MobileSquared, Netsize and Virgin Trains. They discuss the opportunities RCS presents for brands and customers, the risks & dangers of fraud and their views on if and when the new form of messaging will become widespread globally.

“It’s an industry standard” says Vodafone’s Liz McCord “GSMA led, we have support from all of the major handset manufacturers from Samsung, from Google, who is not only providing a client but a back-end for some operators.. and we’re starting to see… all of the Japanese operators launched at the same time, the whole of the US is live, we have markets coming online – we shall soon see a much stronger presence of RCS.”

CIO of Virgin Trains John Sullivan has no doubt RCS will become a new standard for brands: “I’m very confident that the other mobile operators in the UK will be jumping to use RCS. Its the right thing for the customers, simple as that. If you look at text messaging its been great but its 25 years old, and it’s about time we had an upgrade: RCS for us is the perfect upgrade.”

Nick Lane, chief Analyst at Mobile Squared is equally convinced that brands will be investing in RCS instead of apps and traditional mobile advertising. “The trials are delivering results that are very powerful. Part of the continuation of the power of SMS and the level of engagement you get – and that is starting to be applied to RCS, to call it SMS 2.0 is short sighted; this goes beyond apps. We’re going to see companies invest in RCS and drop their spend on apps, and potentially, they should move their investment in mobile advertising into RCS, far more effective.”

Eric Brouard, Marketing Director at Netsize also suggested that the time is right for RCS; “SMS has been around for a very very long time and used in so many different use cases but has reached its limits – it only 160 characters, black and white plain text – so although you can enrich the experience with a link and redirecting the user to a landing page, its still not a rich experience, so basically RCS has to move forward as a product and has to be provided to the end user and to brands as well for them to communicate to the end users.”

Tim Ward XConnect‘s VP of Marketing and Sales agrees RCS could significantly change how brands communicate with customers , suggesting “once a couple of large brands have really adopted and driven the communication with their customers – everyone will want to do it, because it will be (it seems to me) a very obvious step which takes you away from being dependent on loaded apps and allows messages to become rich, which is what its meant to be.”

Tim Green, MEF Minute Features Editor commented on the importance of discussing the scope for RCS to be used by criminals for fraud against consumers: “SMS is plagued a little bit by a lack of ability to identify the sender which invites criminals to phish by pretending to be legitimate businesses. With RCS there’s going to be a lot tighter control on registering as a legitimate business, and Google obviously has lots of AI and data including maps and so on, that can test against whether a business is legitimate or not.”

Juan Ramirez Digital Solutions Architect at Telenor also feels the issue of trust is key to the success of RCS. “We need to come up with a solution on our platform that is trust worthy end to end so end-users, companies and brands know that it is a safe channel and they know they wont be affected or be the victim of fraud. We need to work together with the community of aggregators and enterprises to ensure that what we are defining together will enable just that.”

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