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MEF CEO Dario Betti reflects on a busy month in Business messaging, it is not just Apple that deserves a mention this week. 

The beginning of June 2024 saw several announcements that will shape the business messaging and mobile industry. Let’s summarise their impact.

Apple Brings Rich Messaging Interoperability.

First, on June 10, 2024, Apple confirmed its intent to support RCS (Rich Communication Services) the iOS 18 update. The news was expected, but also very welcome for an industry that was looking at RCS to become as universal as the 30+ year old SMS message.

The move aims to enhance messaging capabilities on iPhones, bridging the gap between SMS and modern messaging apps. RCS offers features such as read receipts, typing indicators, and high-quality media sharing, providing a more dynamic and interactive messaging experience and offer brand verification which has been lacking in mobile messaging to-date.

Fundamentally, RCS will allow better messaging with Android phone users, better compliance with China’s requirements on 5G messaging, and it supports the EU’s request for interoperability.

Apple has kept its focus on P2P and its own messaging client iMessage during the presentation. Many were worried by the lack of information on business messaging RCS in the presentation. There could be many readings, in practice RCS has got a bit more of work to be done. I would not read much in Apple’s position yet, if not the cautious approach of a company famous for its customer experience focus.

In fact, in the background the work to bring business messaging has already started. Another meeting between the major players was taking place 3 days after the announcement in London’s GSMA headquarters with the main players.

Source: Apple

The new GSMA standard for RCS (called Universal Profile) should bring a lot more of clarity on some key question outstanding. In practice, many from the business messaging industry would have want more information, but in practice it is unlikely that Apple will give as much in the short term.

However, Apple has confirmed it will support the latest GSMA standard (Universal Profile 2.4 in our understanding) and this includes business messaging.

If you were to download the developer version of iOS18 you might also discover that person to person RCS messaging is not automatically active. Despite the large interest, RCS will be a development and work in progress for a more months.

Mobile operators in Nort America and Europe are getting ready for launch, and many in the industry are keen to understand more. I would suggest joining the Mobile Ecosystem Forum working group on RCS to keep informed on the latest information.

WhatsApp Introduces AI to Chatbots

Just a few days earlier, on June 6th, Meta launched its first AI Chatbot and AI-driven ad targeting program for businesses on WhatsApp. Although these didn’t receive widespread coverage, they deserve closer attention due to the significant as AI tools have the potential to revolutionize the business messaging industry.

First, WhatsApp’s new AI chatbot will utilize user behaviour on Facebook and Instagram to target messages to customers most likely to respond. For instance, an abandoned shopping cart item on WhatsApp can trigger an ad campaign based on the likelihood of a response. This allows brands to optimize campaigns for these users, potentially boosting return on investment (ROI).

Second, the new WhatsApp AI chatbot enables businesses to automate their communications. This AI tool now automatically responds to customer questions, generating answers to common queries, assisting with tasks like finding catalogues, or checking business hours, thereby helping customers find information quickly.

Meta also announced the expansion of its business verification feature on WhatsApp. Businesses can now apply for a Meta Verified badge, indicating their authenticity to users.

MEF will open a new working group to keep up with the latest information about WhatsApp Business Messaging. Contact our team if you would like to be a founding member of the group.

The Importance of Payments

Additionally, both Meta and Apple have announced new payment solutions. Apple released a tap to pay functionality, and Meta revealed plans to integrate Brazil’s digital payment method, PIX, into WhatsApp’s payment tool.

PIX, developed by the central bank, accounted for about 39% of transactions in Brazil last year and offers similar services to WhatsApp payments, including money transfers and company purchases. This move underscores Meta’s commitment to expanding its payment services within WhatsApp, mirroring a similar initiative in India where it began offering payment services from competing providers.

The announcements come at a time when digital wallets are growing in popularity. Even here, we have a new working group on Payments & Commerce starting soon at MEF. Let us know if you would like to join our new monthly calls.

There is a lot happening in the Mobile Ecosystem, and there is plenty at the Mobile Ecosystem Forum for you to understand, engage on and monetise these markets.

Dario Betti

CEO, Mobile Ecosystem Forum

  

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