EYE Views: Payments, messaging and conversational commerce – is RCS about to step out of the shadows?

conversational commerceAnalyst firm, Juniper Research recently released a report suggesting that RCS messaging providers should partner with payment service providers to offer in-message payments.

Elsewhere WhatsApp has rolled out payments within its messaging app in India – WhatsApp Pay.

Both represent a step toward the panacea of peer to peer payments and conversational commerce. A consumer could receive an ‘abandoned cart’ message with the option to purchase that item from within a message for example. Or even more simple things like renewing car tax after receiving a message … from within that message.

We asked industry experts from the world of messaging and payments for their views.  Here’s what they said …

 

Conversational CommerceHenry Calvert, Head of Future Networks, GSMA


Where 2020 has reduced our physical interactions, more individuals have turned to transacting online. RCS messaging offers huge potential for improving this experience, providing greater functionality for merchants to engage with their customers, and peace of mind for merchants and customers alike through more robust security.

Whilst banks and regulators remain concerned with the vulnerability of SMS due to SIM swap attacks and phishing exploits, RCS includes an ability to verify the sender thereby mitigating such threats and offering improved levels of payment protection and trust.

RCS also allows banks to engage their customers without requiring them to download and install a mobile banking app – for instance to provide up-to-date balance or transaction information, or share the status of pending payments.

A key feature of RCS is being able to bring rich media messaging and payments together to provide a robust ‘conversational commerce’ channel that allows merchants to not only engage with their customers but also take such interactions through to fulfillment within a single user journey.  Simply by hitting the ‘pay’ button within an RCS thread, the user is seamlessly taken to a secondary process through which they authorise the payment before being returned back to the original RCS conversation to finalise the transaction.

     

David Creasey-Benjamin, SVP Future Messaging, imimobileconversational commerce


RCS delivers higher engagement rates than it’s OTT compatriots, consistently, across sectors, in live deployments. Reach is growing with monthly roll-outs becoming the norm. The only remaining gap to fully realise the promise of conversational commerce using RCS is making payments within the channel. Some RCS users may feel left out witnessing the simplicity of Apple Pay via Apple Business Chat, but they shouldn’t.

With the right journey management and the right integrations, enabling payments within RCS journeys is a reality. Telco’s can use Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) to allow the purchase of their own products, charities can use DCB for donations, retailers can use web-based gateways to complete the shopping experience in channel, securely, without the need for an app download.

As RCS grows to ubiquity (at least on android), payments will inevitably become part of the standard, but forward-thinking companies that are building journeys now, will set the expectations for those standards.

     

conversational commerceSilvija Renusa, Senior Product Manager, Infobip


Sign-posted as the next generation of SMS, Rich Communication Services (RCS) is set to become the go-to messaging technology for enterprises. One of the main reasons is that all RCS senders must be verified, assuring authentication, fraud prevention and a reliable communication between brands and their customers. This verified status makes RCS the perfect channel for direct carrier billing allowing businesses to charge payments directly to the customer’s mobile phone bill – eliminating the need for additional authentication steps and streamlining costs for the customer.

With its interactive functionalities like buttons and carousels – RCS can also be used as a tool for building those all-important customer relationships. Through RCS-enabled chatbots, businesses can use automated enriched conversations to deliver timely and relevant messages capturing attention at the critical moment. When designed and implemented correctly, RCS has the potential to not only retrieve abandoned carts but create those long-term, meaningful customer relationships that every business is aspiring towards.

     

Nick Millward, Vice-President for Europe, mGageconversational commerce


With brands constantly seeking more innovative ways of increasing engagement and customer experience, the combination of Rich Communications Service (RCS) and mobile payment services is a natural and exciting progression of mobile messaging.

By bringing the two proven solutions together, we expect to drive much higher engagement. For example, we are now seeing RCS outperforming SMS by 14X. Then with simplified flows delivering a seamless customer experience you can expect 7X higher conversions through mobile payments compared to traditional methods such as card payments. In addition, RCS provides an enhanced level of security for brands with its built-in sender verification, which makes this channel less susceptible to fraudsters and therefore builds a higher level of confidence for the consumer knowing who the message is from.

This new technology advancement of mobile billing with rich media will accelerate a positive interaction, as it provides a convenient and seamless conversational channel for consumers and enables brands to monetise their services without compromising on the customer experience.

With the RCS chatbot functionality, brands can enhance and complement any pre-existing services that are used on mobile and web channels to help assist customers. Mobile billing also has an important role to play, as charities or media companies can access a solution that will enable them to collect donations or on-demand subscription payments faster, with frictionless and easy payment flows that ultimately lead to a higher return on investment.

With mobile messaging one of the most effective forms of communication and continuing to develop in response to a growing user base, we expect RCS messaging and payment services will grow in popularity. Having a seamless flow, enhanced security and a strong potential for increasing revenue and customer engagement levels, it will not be long before RCS payment channels become essential for brands.

     

conversational commerceJon Prideaux, CEO, Boku


We’ve gone from a world in which consumers had to seek out eCommerce to one in which consumers expect digital commerce to seamlessly meet them where they are. There’s no better example of this than messaging apps, which have exploded in use, and are only increasing in utility. This has already begun with the integration of P2P payments into messaging apps that make it easier to repay a friend for a shared meal.

However, for eCommerce this functionality is rapidly growing in importance. It will be critical for social commerce to have a fully integrated payments experience, in which purchases can be made without leaving an app. Similarly, as merchants deploy chatbots and customer service reps through social and messaging apps, being able to accept payments or provide refunds will result in greater customer delight. Integrating seamless and secure mobile payments into messaging services like RCS is a no-brainer that benefits consumers, merchants, and messaging ecosystems alike.