Ecosystem Meets in London for UK launch of RCS Business Messaging

RCS Business Messaging is now available amongst all UK operators: meaning highly engaging digital marketing campaigns, and interactive AI user support, are now available out-of-the-box across the country with the highest smartphone penetration on earth.  To celebrate this milestone development – and to consider how best the commercial opportunity can be realised – leading operators, solution providers, digital media companies, and early adopters among business met in London last month to discuss progress and plan the course ahead.

In setting out the proven gains to date for participating brands, Mgage’s VP for Europe Nick Millward was able to draw on some highly impressive engagement rates enjoyed by existing RCS campaigns, as compared to legacy SMS methods. However, as Nick explained, it’s not only about the improvements to functionality and convenience – the eye-catching multimedia features, for instance, or the slick browsing methods, which for the first time can be accessed from a single native messaging platform on the user’s device.  The success of RCS is also about user confidence: capabilities like Verified Sender, the proof-of-identity embedded in RCS to assure users of legitimacy, are vital to building consumer trust and protecting both brands and the ecosystem as a whole.  Nick’s enthusiasm was plain to see, and it’s perhaps easy to see why – Mgage’s own market research has revealed that the vast majority of consumers, at 79%, are now intrigued by RCS and ready to give it a go. With Mgage offering to set up an RCS campaign for just about any brand within 8 weeks, they won’t have long to wait.

Senior representatives from Telefonica and Vodafone too were at hand to update us on the growing momentum behind their work in RCS.  Telefonica have now adopted RCS across their entire carrier group, with a business case focussed in large part on upping their margins in spend on digital advertising. Telefonica is confident that RCS can increase revenues by removing the user’s need for separate app downloads, or the operator’s need for manned customer service centres – and that once these streamlining effects meet with the new capabilities on offer, and the RCS ecosystem starts to scale in earnest, the mobile industry’s relevance in the messaging space will be assured.  Vodafone demonstrated this bright future for the audience with the success of their click-through rates on campaigns in Italy, Germany and Spain – all are consistently outperforming similar SMS campaigns, averaging a striking 40% uplift in engagement rates.

The UK’s financial sector was there in force, as were major retail brands, and digital companies like Sky, to review live use cases and consider RCS’ developing place in the UK market.  Mobilesquared’s Nick Lane was joined by speakers from Google, EE/BT, Mgage, Mavenir and the GSMA to debate quite what that place is, and how it will come about – all agreed however on the enormous commercial potential at hand, and were full of advice for the audience on the options available to them when it comes to commercial models; what ROI they can expect; and how to approach coverage issues. Google were able to reassure the audience that the UK’s Android base will grow exponentially between now and the end of the financial year, and delegates seemed buoyed by the understanding that any campaign reaching a non-RCS-compliant device will fall back to SMS.

There’s renewed interest among prospective participants in the RCS ecosystem following launch across the UK, and for good reason.  Events like Mgage’s help to foster that enthusiasm, and leave attendees far better informed as to what they should do with it – we’re certainly glad to have taken part, and look forward to many more like it across the world in the months ahead.