What Is RCS Business Messaging: An Engaging and Secure Format for Marketing Communication

Team MessageFlow
18 min
April 29, 2024

Rich Communication Services is an emerging mobile messaging channel which opens up a multitude of opportunities for brands to engage customers, including via two-way conversations. Already available with most of the Android phones, it’s expected to eventually come to iOS as well in late 2024, after Apple’s initial reluctance to adopt the technology.

RCS not only combines the best features of its messaging precursors but also puts extra emphasis on communication security to create an engaging and visually appealing experience that doesn’t feel like straight sales. To start off the series of articles on this innovative channel, we’re exploring its features and advantages in more detail.

What are Rich Communication Services?

RCS is a communication protocol (a set of rules facilitating the transmission of information) connecting mobile carriers, as well as phones and carriers, intended to eventually replace SMS. 

It is still primarily text-based, although it allows for the inclusion of various rich media, on top of a number of other unique features, significantly enhancing the communication experience. RCS has been developed in response to customer preferences and habits, as well as to provide businesses with new ways to connect with consumers. In essence, it’s an extension of the SMS we’re all so familiar with, but it’s making it way more interactive and functional. 

The way the GSM Association describes RCS is ‘It’s just there, and it just works’. Plain and simple, this channel has been made easy to get started with, requires no additional downloads to work and be used on the customer end, and provides brands with multiple audience engagement opportunities. It’s main benefits include:

  • Wide reach - a large and growing number of Android users are within its reach and will eventually be joined by iOS users as well.

  • Nativity - there’s no need to install any extra apps. Most current smartphones are already RCS-capable.

  • Security - communication is made secure thanks to a number of advanced measures, including the sender verification process.

  • Two-way communication - RCS is allowing brands to not simply broadcast their communication but also to interact with the customer in a 24-hour chat window.

benefits of rich communication services rcs

RCS Business Messaging

RCS Business Messaging (RBM) is the A2P version of the channel, delivering the same rich content over the Google Messages or another default messaging app and more. It’s shaping up to be the future of business communication, creating an environment for highly interactive messaging experience.

RCS Business Messaging features 

RCS Business Messaging offers a slew of features, some of which not being available to regular users of the channel. Here’s what makes RBM so attractive to companies:

  1. Rich media content: send multimedia texts including high-resolution images, videos, audio clips, and documents directly within the messaging interface.

  2. Interactive elements: use interactive elements like buttons, carousels, suggested replies, and quick action prompts, to enable users to engage with your business in more dynamic ways.

  3. Brand customization: customize the messaging interface with your brand colors, logo, and other elements to create a consistent and recognizable user experience. This feature in particular is intended to build consumer trust and mitigate fraud attempts by implementing a sender verification system. 

  4. Enhanced analytics: get detailed analytics and insights into campaign delivery, open rates, user engagement, and other key metrics to better optimize your future campaigns.

  5. Chatbot integration: implement a chatbot within the channel to automate responses, provide instant customer support, and streamline interactions with users.

  6. Transactional capabilities: facilitate transactions directly within the messaging interface, allowing users to make purchases, book appointments, or complete other actions without leaving the messaging app.

  7. Group chat: engage with multiple users simultaneously and facilitate group discussions or collaborations.

  8. Location sharing: get users to share their real-time location with you to enable location-based services such as store locator functionality, delivery tracking, or personalized recommendations.

  9. Security and encryption: enjoy advanced security features such as end to end encryption to protect user privacy and ensure the safety of sensitive information being exchanged.

  10. Cross-platform compatibility: reach customers across different devices and operating systems, ensuring a smooth messaging experience regardless of the platform they’re using.

sms rcs mobile push comparison table

Overall, RCS Business Messaging aims to provide means for delivering highly personalized and relevant communication to the customers, showcasing products, providing support, and even completing transactions, all within the phone’s built-in messaging app.

💡 Importantly, these business-specific features can only be taken advantage of via a business communication platform integrated with GSM networks. If you’d like to start using RCS in your mobile marketing efforts, you’ll need to seek out a reliable partner who’ll facilitate it for you.

RCS message types

Google's RCS offers several message types, allowing companies to pursue different business goals. These are often referred to as RCS profiles and they determine the capabilities and features available within them. Here's a quick breakdown of the RCS types:

  • RCS Basic/Lite - It's the most essential level of RCS messaging. It typically includes features such as larger character limit, read receipts, and the option to send high-resolution images and videos. However, it may not support all the advanced features of RCS, such as interactive elements or chatbot integration.

  • RCS Single Message - Allows you to send media-rich communication to users who have RCS-capable devices even if the recipient's carrier or messaging app doesn't fully support the channel. This profile lets you take advantage of RCS features for individual messages without relying on full support for the channel from both sender and receiver.

  • RCS Chat (Universal Profile) - Also known as Universal Profile for Advanced Messaging, is the most advanced and comprehensive type in the channel. It includes all the features of RCS Basic/Lite and more, such as interactive elements, verified sender identification, chatbot integration, group chat, and enhanced analytics. The GSMA's Universal Profile aims to provide an enriched experience comparable to over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

rcs message types comparison

Current state of the RCS service adoption

Considering all the information above, the fact how useful Rich Communication Services seem to be, and how much more they offer in comparison to some of the earlier messaging formats, you may be wondering how far into its wide adoption we are.

In 2023, Google’s Cloud platform had 800 million active RCS users and more than 1.2 bln devices worldwide supporting the technology.

rcs adoption numbers

Global players including major mobile operators like AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, T-Mobile, Verizon, Vodafone, and many others, hardware manufacturers like Huawei, LG, Samsung, and Sony, as well as mobile OS developers are backing the implementation of and steadily adopting strategies to ensure the growth of the RCS market. 

💡 RCS adoption rates vary in regional and industry terms. Europe and North America lead the way largely due to the strong presence of big mobile carriers in these continents, who invest in promoting the embracement of the channel among both consumers and businesses. Asia and Africa still rely on the more traditional SMS but eventually will catch up anyway, as RCS has all the hallmarks of a future technology.

As far as specific business niches are concerned, retail and hospitality have been early to the party, delivering engaging shopping and booking experiences. The option to include various media formats allows brands to showcase their offerings in significantly more exciting ways.

On the other hand, healthcare and financial sectors have been slower to adopt RCS, partly because of the specific nature of these businesses, and partly because of the various regulations surrounding them. However, considering the personalization options and the overall convenience of the RCS channel, they’re likely to turn to it as well eventually.

What is influencing the adoption of RCS

The primary factor working in favor of the spread of the GSMA-promoted messaging service has been the growing availability and the actual number of phones in use that are capable of channeling RCS. Since moving forward all new smartphones will be made RCS-compatible, brands now have the opportunity to become early adopters and perhaps even trailblazers in their niches.

Using RCS can be a great way to differentiate yourself from competitors who are still relying on other, perhaps less engaging channels to reach customers. On top of the growing availability of RCS-capable smartphones there’s the unwavering popularity of texting in general. 

💡 Although the statistics don't actually show a clear growth trend, what they do tell is that the numbers remain very high over the last decade. Texting simply comes off as a very natural means of communication for us and for this reason it’s going to be tough and frankly unnecessary to try to replace it with something else.

It’s better to enhance it with media and add two-way chatting capabilities, as RCS does, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Rich Communication Services address the need to make mobile messaging more interactive, benefitting both ends of the communication line.

The growing importance of business communication security and how RCS ecosystems fits within

Communication security is an open-ended issue. Despite the existence of various preventive measures and a general awareness among the population, scammers find new ways to illegally elicit sensitive information. If the context is right, for instance, someone is expecting a package and gets contacted by a “delivery guy”, it’s easy to fall victim to phishing and other methods of fraud, especially when the emotional aspect and a degree of carelessness are involved. These tactics, when employed on a large enough scale, will eventually generate results for scammers if steps aren’t taken to counteract them.

Thus, businesses need to turn to new channels for conveying information to protect both themselves and their customers.

That said, you may be wondering if GSMA RCS is more secure than other channels and the answer is yes, they are. RCS offers several security advantages over traditional SMS and MMS protocols including:

  • End-to-end encryption - RCS supports end-to-end encryption for messages, meaning that the content is encrypted going out from the sender's device until it reaches the recipient's device. This helps protect confidentiality and mitigates the risk of interception or eavesdropping by unauthorized parties.

  • Verified sender identification - RCS requires businesses to undergo their sender identity verification process, which eventually helps users distinguish legitimate communication from potential spam or phishing attempts. This verification process enhances trust and reduces the likelihood of users falling victim to fraud attempts.

  • Authentication mechanisms - RCS can incorporate authentication mechanisms such as digital signatures or cryptographic keys to verify the authenticity and ensure there's been no tampering while in transit. This helps prevent spoofing and unauthorized modifications to message content.

  • Secure channel establishment - RCS implementation typically involves secure channel establishment protocols, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS), to encrypt communication between the sender and the RCS service provider's servers. This helps protect against man-in-the-middle attacks and unauthorized access to data during transmission.

  • Controlled access to features - RCS provides granular control over access to certain features, such as location sharing or multimedia content sharing, allowing users to manage their privacy preferences and control the information they share with others.

rcs message elements

Get started with secure RCS chat campaigns for exceptional customer engagement

Rich Communication Services is a dynamic and secure messaging channel of the future for businesses to reach customers in powerful new ways by running engaging campaigns involving a variety of media types and other interactive elements.

RCS is shaping up to be the modern industry standard for messaging and has already set its foot in the business environment and isn’t going anywhere. The audience you’ll be able to reach with it is steadily growing and so are the ways in which you can utilize the channel. If mobile communication is an integral part of your company’s operations, this technology is absolutely worthy of exploring, especially since Apple announced it will support RCS messaging later in 2024.

Now, if you’re looking to get started with RCS Business Messaging, we’re here to offer just the right platform for you. MessageFlow relies on direct GSM operator connections to not only facilitate RBM in the first place, but also provide high-quality traffic only, without involving any gray routes. In essence, we have the tech infrastructure in place to help you reach audiences all over the world via this innovative channel.

This comes on top of all the other security measures we have to safeguard your organization and its customers, including GDPR, ISO 27001 and ISO 27018 compliance, and a proprietary antiphishing shield. Contact us to inquire about making RCS Business Messaging your next best communication channel. 

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