RCS – The Future of Messaging

20 November 2019

Rich Communication Services (RCS) is a multimedia evolution of traditional Short Message Service (SMS). While traditional SMS is limited in its features, RCS-enabled messaging combines the global reach of SMS and the best features of chat apps such as WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, all within the consumer’s preferred platform – messaging.

Currently launched by 81 mobile operators worldwide, the GSMA forecasts an additional 27 operator launches by Q1 2020.

Next-gen messaging – SMS V RCS

It’s easy to see why brands would want to build on the success of standard SMS messaging. SMS as a marketing channel has been around for 27 years and has a higher open rate than email; SMS open rates are around 95%, while emails sit at 25%. 61% of consumers say they prefer to be contacted by email about promotional activity from a brand, whereas 75% are happy to be contacted by SMS.

Marketers have chosen SMS to interact with their customers because it’s reliable, simple and cost-effective. However, SMS hasn’t quite kept up with, or evolved to, changing customer expectations or business needs – this is where RCS comes in:

  • RCS is a new generation of messaging, offering additional features that many consumers wish that SMS had, such as location sharing, read receipts, hi-res image sharing, group chat and video call
  • With ever-changing technological advances, more and more consumers now wish to connect with friends and family as richly as possible

Benefits of RCS

GSMA, the trade association for the mobile operator community, have revealed that 80% of consumers find RCS appealing, while 70% say RCS would make them more likely to want to communicate with a brand.

  • RCS will allow businesses to have more options and opportunities to extend their branding strategies and provide customers with a better overall experience
  • Consumers like the simplicity, personalization, and reliability that RCS offers – RCS will have the capability to deliver secure one-click purchases, without users having to leave the window of conversation or take multiple steps to payment
  • Consumers also express interest in being able to send and receive more visual messages that helped them to express their emotions and feelings more clearly
  • RCS will be used for customer support to resolve issues. Efficient responses and read receipts will benefit users, while businesses will derive benefit from cost savings (when compared to call centres)

RCS Case Study

Virgin Trains have already adopted RCS to help deliver optimal customer service. CIO and Project Director John Sullivan states that by rolling out RCS, customer anxiety can be removed in times of disruption. Real time information is provided, allowing passengers to react accordingly e.g. choose another line if there is a delay, while rich media messages allow customers to engage immediately, often with a single tap.

RCS is also great for airline travellers, providing a consistent communication experience via rich media notifications including entertainment, upgrade options, information about flight status and instant access to customer service.


RCS presents a huge opportunity for mobile operators to complete the user journey. The GSMA is backing a universal RCS profile to provide RCS messaging right across the Android ecosystem and include Apple iPhone apps to receive and send RCS messages.

In terms of convenience, security and ease of use, RCS and Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) go hand in hand. Mobile carrier billing can be integrated as a payment option for rich communication services, allowing for simple, fast and secure payments in the messaging window, without users having to leave the conversation. With the increasing potential, possibilities and growth of RCS, now is a great time to consider combining RCS and DCB.

Contact SLA Digital today to discuss adding carrier billing as a payment method.

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