More than 40m users of Japan’s +Message RCS service forecast by 2021  

Japan’s RCS-based ‘+Message’ service is demonstrating strong consumer adoption and is aiming to become a leading platform for business messaging in the country, according to a new report from the GSMA. Japanese operators KDDI, NTT DOCOMO and SoftBank launched +Message using the GSMA’s RCS standards in May 2018, providing full interoperability and a common user experience for next-generation messaging.

As well as enabling a rich, secure alternative to SMS for person-to-person communications, +Message also allows Japanese consumers to communicate directly with a range of brands and services, for example allowing them to engage with virtual assistants to book flights, buy goods and make restaurant reservations.

Key findings from the report, which includes contributions from KDDI, NTT DOCOMO and SoftBank, plus additional insight from analyst firm Mobilesquared, and Synchronoss, include:

  • The number of active +Message users is forecast to rise to 17.5 million by the end of this year, a 35% rise year-on-year, and is forecast to rise to more than 40 million by 2021 (source: Mobilesquared)
  • The number of RCS business messages sent in Japan is forecast to reach more than 150 million per year by 2021, growing to 1.2 billion in 2023 (source: Mobilesquared)
  • Japanese subscribers open more than 85% of the RCS business messages they receive (source: KDDI)
  • Open rates of RCS business messages globally are 75%, compared to 3% for direct mail (source: Mobilesquared)
  • Purchase rates from RCS business messages globally are twice as high as from direct mail (source: Mobilesquared)

Operators in Japan are seeing demand for business messaging from financial services, transport and media companies including marketing agencies. They are also increasingly using the service to interact with their own customers. +Message now comes preloaded on new Android smartphones in Japan, and is available as a downloadable app for iOS and Android deivces that are already in use.

The success of +Message is being closely followed by operators and brands around the world as an example of a new era of trusted messaging services. Japan’s RCS-enabled service demonstrates how digital commerce is evolving to become even more convenient and compelling for both individuals and merchants.

Henry Calvert, Head of Future Networks, GSMA