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Let’s Welcome the New Kid on the Block: Verified SMS


Photo of somebody text messaging
Image: ant -
Short message service, or SMS, continues to be the ubiquitous go-to channel for any enterprise looking to get closer to their customers. If you have promotional or marketing content to deliver accurately and quickly, it's a smart commercial decision to turn to the mobile engagement channel that everyone understands and to which almost every single mobile phone subscriber has global access. SMS just works, allowing brands to have meaningful dialogue with their customers. But the days of viewing application-to-person SMS as a one-way-only mobile channel are on their way out.
Although the sentiment around all-things SMS is overwhelmingly positive, sometimes it can be tricky to trust the identity of these messages since someone can send them from what appears to be random numbers. Some messages may even come from those with malicious intent, pretending to be from brands you trust, asking for private information or linking to dangerous websites — i.e., phishing. There’s now a new kid on the block designed to rectify this problem: Verified SMS for Messages, or just Verified SMS for short.
Coming from Google and on an aggressive rollout schedule across multiple countries, the premise behind Verified SMS is to confirm the identity of the business that’s texting the subscriber. The feature works by verifying that content is sent by a specific business on a per-message basis. The message is verified without actually being sent to Google. Instead, you’ll see the business thread, the company name, logo, and a verification badge. These enhancements over standard SMS will give message recipients a greater sense of confidence that these messages have originated from the true brand they intended to engage with and eliminate any doubt of their legitimacy. But what about the existing mobile channels of SMS and Rich Communication Services (RCS)?
The last decade was characterized by huge competition between the Google (Android)- and Apple (iOS)-driven worlds, and Verified SMS isn’t changing this trend anytime soon.
SMS is a true heavyweight that cuts across everything and RCS has Google’s full weight behind it. Now in its 28th year, SMS is easily understood and with 98% of successfully delivered messages actually being read, it just works, although it’s not perfect. RCS brings the missing dynamic injection of color SMS lacks — enhancing messaging in the Android world. Google is significantly at the center of this, with its support of the Universal Profile and the plan to bring more operators on board. However, Apple is still not showing any real desire to support RCS. Yet.
Given that Apple has about 20% of the smartphone market globally, a huge chunk of smartphone users has no access to RCS. Indeed, many Android smartphones aren’t yet RCS-ready either, as that is down to operators installing infrastructure as well as handsets being of the correct configuration, etc. After many false starts, though, RCS is starting to gain some real traction now and is on the upswing.
Driven by myriad factors, brand communication with customers is rapidly becoming more complex and nuanced, which has elevated trust as a key driver of loyalty that can break a relationship in the amount of time it takes to read a fraudulent text message. As we prepare to enter the third decade of SMS and continue the evolution and rollout of its dynamic RCS cousin, Verified SMS will play a critical role in maintaining trust and safety between brands and their customers.