The GSMA’s Future Networks Programme has published Version 2.2 of the Universal Profile (UP) for Rich Communications Services (RCS), alongside RCS 8.0 which delivers the UP’s technical underpinnings.
First published in November 2016, the Universal Profile is a single, industry-agreed set of features and technical enablers developed to simplify the product development and global operator deployment of RCS. The last releases, Version 2.0 (July 2017) and Version 2.1 (December 2017), built on the first technical specification by introducing key enablers for RCS Business Messaging, as well as ‘conversational commerce’ features, improved messaging expressiveness, APIs, plug-in integration and improved authentication and security.
UP 2.2 has gone a step further and has made significant developments in the area of Chatbots, building on the Chatbot features originally introduced in UP 2.0. Arguably, the most important of these functional enhancements is the verification of Chatbots. This feature allows one or more parties, known as ‘Verification Authorities’, to verify that the party operating the Chatbot is entitled to use the name and logo provided in its Chatbot Information, to ensure that that there is no misuse of a party’s brand. Subscribers of an Operator will be able to see in the user interface of their RCS client that the Chatbot has been verified, therefore increasing trust between users and Chatbots.
A second important advancement in UP 2.2 is its focus on the anonimisation of users. The anonimisation of a user towards a Chatbot is controlled in Person to Application scenarios. This feature has been simplified in UP 2.2, making it far easier to implement from both the client and the network perspective and, as a result, will speed up the availability of this feature for users.
Thirdly, this new release has also made significant enhancements in the definition of an interface between Chatbot platforms and Operator networks to provide information on the available Chatbots. This has meant extending the directory query that was introduced in UP 2.0 to a full search functionality.
UP 2.2 has also introduced the option to use deep links to Chatbots. These can be provided in webpages and emails and, when clicked by the user, will open up a conversation with that Chatbot with a pre-populated message or even a series of potential messages. If a user clicks on one of these links from a device that does not have an RCS client, an SMS-based communication will be initiated instead, provided that the party operating that Chatbot supports SMS. This will ensure a smooth transition from SMS to RCS.
Version 2.2 allows Operators to give a specific status to Chatbots that are used for critical communications. This will mean that the user cannot block these particular Chatbots, and therefore ensures they do not miss important messages.
Finally, this new release integrates any bug fixes and clarifications that were brought to the previous releases through RCC.72.
The UP is currently backed by more than 60 leading operators, vendors and OS providers worldwide. The initiative is helping operators to upgrade their messaging services and provide subscribers with a superior and enhanced experience that works simply and consistently across devices without the need to download multiple messaging apps.
Global adoption of RCS is rapidly accelerating around the world with 55 Operator launches and network interconnections in Europe and the Americas. GSMA Intelligence estimates that there are currently 167 million monthly active RCS users, a figure which is expected to double to 350 million by Q4 2018 and then double again the following year. What’s more, major brands such as Booking.com, ITV and Subway have now launched live RCS Business Messaging campaigns which are revolutionising the way they engage with their customers. Through Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence, RCS Business Messaging enables subscribers to gain access to a range of brands and services from within the messaging app itself, allowing them to make restaurant reservations, book train tickets, make purchases and much more without the need to download numerous apps. RCS Business Messaging has huge potential with GSMA Intelligence estimating that the market will be worth over $74 billion by 2021.
The GSMA is working to accelerate the growth of RCS through an initiative called the GSMA RCS Business Messaging Labs, a series of global events which brings operators, marketing companies, aggregators and brands together to discuss the operational and commercial requirements that will enable RCS to become an industry-leading messaging platform.
- For more information about the GSMA’s Universal Profile or to download Universal Profile 2.2 please click here.
- To get involved in the GSMA RCS Business Messaging Labs, please click here.