SMS to Dominate as the Business-purpose Communication and Notifications Media. ICX Operators now routing SMS’s besides voice-calls see a new growth opportunity of SMS over Instant Messages
In addition to routing all inter-carrier voice calls, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has recently directed the Interconnection Exchanges (ICXs) to bring in inter-operator and global (routed through the IGWs) SMS transactions under their purview. So far, there was neither any clear guidance of inter-operator SMS routing nor any visibility of the SMS movements. This poses threats of spamming, possibility of revenue loss of government and other security threats. The objective of the latest regulation of BTRC is to ensure transparency, enhance security and avoid spamming in the SMS transactions. As a result of this directive, 26 ICX operators of Bangladesh will now also act as independent SMS Gateways on top of being Voice Gateways.
The regulation does not only make SMS transactions more secure as well transparent, this also opens up new avenue of mass-marketing. Some may think – how dominant SMS will remain in the coming days when confronted with Over-the-Top (OTT) Instant Messaging (IM) Apps. OTT IMs are actually very friendly and fitting for Peer-to-Peer (P2P) instant interactions. But, they are not as reliable and managable as operator SMSs are. Besides, such app companies like WhatsApp, Viber, Messenger etc. do not fall under the purview of any regulatory body that can claim and get reports on the contents of the conversation. Plus, given the current penetration of internet (less than 30% of population) and smartphone (only around 6% of total mobile users) in Bangldesh, such OTT IMs are not an option for the mass.
Traditional SMS, on the other hand, is the most effective way to reach mass users. Over 81% of the population has mobile phones and thus SMS is an ideal choice for mass promotion / commnications at a very low cost (that can be traded-off with internet data cost for running the OTT Apps). Besdies, the regulatory authority has anytime-access to ensure transparency and security. Also, when it comes to timeliness of delivery, SMS maintains the highest engagement rate in comparison to e-mails and OTT apps making it ideal for sending short, time-sensitive content.
For such advantages, inter-operator SMS is the most-preferred media for serious businesses like payment confirmations, transaction notifications, appointment reminders, account updates from banks, mobile ticketing, flight updates, network security notifications and countless other customizable services. The use SMS as an authentication method has been rising in popularity, as a the cost of sending an SMS is also very low, while its ease over voice call for 2-Factor-Authentication (2FA) makes SMS ideal for today’s fast-paced society. In Bangladehs, it is a must for the banks that are/will be offering online banking to its clients. Even Over-the-Top Instant Messaging companies like WhatsApp, Facebook, Viber and others use SMS as a step in two-factor authentication to activate the IM id. Mr. Mahbubul Matin, an expert in the Asian inter-operator and OTT messaging market said, “though OTT messaging are growing very fast particualry in the countries with advanced economy and infrastructure, traditinal SMSs specially A2P messaging will keep and grow its dominance for more serious requirements”.
ICXs being the hub of all these SMS transactions only need a robust solution to support and report this massive traffic of data continuously and offer the A2P notification services to the business entities of Bangladesh. The best scenario is a set of purpose-built hardware components and software solutions that can support the requirements of the industry. The solution needs to unfailingly handle millions of SMSs and generate myriad reports as desired by the regulator (and other stakeholders/clients).
Crossworld Telecom Limited – a leading ICX in Bangladesh – is an example that is investing in the purpose-built hardware and software to serve the regulator as well as the enterprises. The CEO of Crossworld, Mr. Rafiqul Islam is very optimistic about the role and opportunity of SMS landscape saying – “SMS may be viewed as some old-fashioned comminucation media; but for serious busiensses communications/notifications, SMS plays and will play the key role. From its high user engagement rate and 2FA benefits, to its disruption in the A2P sector, we won’t see SMS disappear anytime soon!” Crossworld has recently taken Onubha SMS Gateway Solution of ssd-tech ltd. Onubha is an SMS Gateway Solution that comes with purpose-built hardware and carrier-grade software components to support the core and potential roles of ICX’s.