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MEF Director of Programmes James Williams shares an overview of the recent webinar with VOX Carrier, Telin and Juniper Networks, focused on understanding “Flash calling” and what it means for the A2P voice sector.

The Enterprise Communications area of MEF drives a huge amount of interest across the MEF community; approximately two-thirds of our members are part of the Future of Messaging Programme. The topic of A2P SMS pops up time and again across all of the FoM working groups and even in the are of Wholesale, it’s hard to escape the gravitational pull of a channel that has received new vigour as a result of the pandemic.

Watch the Panel in full – Download the slides

Chat apps too (like WhatsApp Business) are really on the up and more and more brands are understanding the importance of conversing with their clients using genuine two-way conversational digital channels. Channels literally billions of people become comfortable with more or less straight out of the box. But don’t forget the traditional engagement channels…

Email really was put back front and centre in people’s minds thanks to our member Sinch laying out c. USD 1.9 billion for Pathwire in the USA on September 30th, a leading cloud-based email delivery platform, including its Mailgun, Mailjet and Email on Acid products for developers and marketers.

 So there has been a hunt for something else which has the ubiquitous characteristics of SMS (but is perhaps more secure) and something that creates practically zero friction in customer experience. This is potentially Flash Calling.

Earlier this week, on Tuesday November 2nd 2021, another of our members Infobip agreed to purchase Peerless Network in the USA. Covering 93% of the US population, Peerless has more than 4,500 interconnections in 49 (US) states, processing 9 billion monthly minutes in over 200 markets. Voice still is clearly still very big business

Although voice as you know it has been around for 145 years since Alexander Graham Bell (as he framed it) ‘talked with electricity’ to his assistant Thomas Watson on March 10th 1876, it continues to innovate. A perfect example of this is Flash Calling.

A principal use case of A2P SMS is 2FA, two-factor authentication. Given the ubiquity of SMS (no smartphone, mobile data or internet access required), it has become the ‘go to’ channel for authentication but it isn’t perfect. Remember SMS was never designed to be two-way from its start almost 29 years ago so it has some inherent security issues that can be exploited if people are not on guard. So there has been a hunt for something else which has the ubiquitous characteristics of SMS (but is perhaps more secure) and something that creates practically zero friction in customer experience. This is potentially Flash Calling.

Simply put, Flash Calling is the process in which users’ profiles are verified via a phone call. It leverages phone numbers as a method of identifying users for brands and enterprises. The authentication flow using Flash can be very smooth and in many cases the subscriber is not required to do anything manually so customer experience is great. The problem though is that at present there is practically no structure to bill or invoice these services as a missed call does not leverage a cost on the brand or enterprise. Additionally, there is no structure in place to determine which traffic is A2P or P2P via the originating identity. Lots of ‘interesting’ issues I am sure you can see. And of course, the elephant in the room…the threat to many mobile operators’ established A2P SMS revenues from 2FA transactions.

Little wonder therefore that this topic proved to be a very big draw for people to our latest live webinar (150 people came to it) and joining me to provide a nice introduction to this whole (for many) new area were:

  • Ehsan Ahmadi, CEO & Founder of Vox Carrier
  • Christina Ghita, Marketing Associate with Vox Carrier
  • Nicholas Soo, EVP Global Sales Voice & Mobility with Telin
  • Barker, Head of Analytics & Forecasting with Juniper Research

It was great being able to approach this subject from so many different angles with (research), Nicholas (responsible for so many areas of an MNO in Indonesia with 180 million subscribers) and of course Ehsan and Cristina from a company that on October 5th announced a partnership with the operator TNS-Plus in Kyrgyzstan to enhance the protection and monetisation of their A2P voice (Flash Call) and SMS network. A first from what I know.

I strongly recommend you watch the recording of this webinar. I tried to ask the questions people I thought would appreciate and with 39 questions from those watching live, there was a truckload of interaction.

The hour blitzed by and I look forward to looking deeper into this area live,in-person with Ehsan and others on November 30th as part of our upcoming MEF CONNECTS Omnichannel extravaganza in London – also live-streamed globally. There is clearly a lot of interest in Flash Calling so watch out for more meetings and content related to this area.

James Williams

Director of Programmes, MEF