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This week Mobilesquared has been in Frankfurt at the inaugural, and very excellent it has to be said, Carrier Community SMS Messaging Summit, where a large percentage of the discussion inevitably — at an SMS event — was on RCS (Rich Communication Services).

Mobilesquared forecasts reveal that RCS will have a minimal impact on A2P SMS revenues over the forecast period up to 2022. But the fact remains, RCS remains something of an enigma, and for this reason it’s a topic that continues to divide the industry. Some folks are amazed it’s still around, others just laugh when they hear it mentioned, and some believe it has true potential.

But let’s get back on point. A big discussion point this week was the business model. Pricing remains a key concern and largely an unknown quantity, but that in part, can be attributed to the fact behavioural traits on RCS between consumer and brand remain primarily untried and untested.

From early trials, brands are talking of any where between a 10x and 20x increase in engagement levels, which is encouraging. But unless details of the session characteristics are revealed, it does little to help progress the creation of a business model for RCS.

Indeed, aside from pricing, another key area that remains unresolved is, what is an RCS session? In other words, the engagement between a consumer and (most likely) a bot discussing a particular topic, which could range from train times, booking a ticket and reserving a seat, to a customer service interaction to resolve an issue.

RCS is all about driving engagement and interaction. Yet the companies driving the standardisation and commercialisation of RCS, remain unable to agree on what a session is. Should it contain 6 messages, 10 messages, 30, or even unlimited, and how long should this session remain open for? 5 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day, 2 days, 1 month? Until the length of the session has been identified, it is almost impossible to develop a pricing model around it.

RCS could look at recent mobile marketing developments to potentially assist in its own invention. The ability to reply STOP and remove your data from a company’s database has proven to be a powerful consumer ally, especially in the fight against spam. While RCS as a channel is unlikely to be blighted by spam in the same way as SMS, empowering the consumer in terms of how they engage over RCS is a compelling proposition.

Letting the consumer decide when the session is over with the notion of something along the lines of a “STOP” session button, although “CLOSE SESSION” is a more relevant and applicable approach given the context.

In doing so, the consumer can notify the bot or person at the other end, that the session is over, rather than leaving the session open for the foreseeable future. This could also simplify the billing process and remove any uncertainty as to when a session is over and how much is billed.

Author Jo Hall

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