By Faical Lahlou, Regional Manager at Infobip Francophone Africa
The financial services industry has traditionally been the pioneer and agent of innovation and new technology across the globe. This is no different for regions such as Morocco and surrounding countries throughout the Francophone region. Yet as we see a demand for rich content and two-way communication between the business and the customer – organisations need to find the right technology to meet this requirement. Here, banks, insurers and other financial service organisations can leverage different channels such as SMS, Email and WhatsApp Business API to align with customer demand. However, Rich Content Services (RCS) has emerged to provide huge opportunity for the communication in the financial services industry.
Why RCS? Why now?
Last year saw a significant uptake of RCS globally, with monthly active user numbers growing from 150 million to almost 300 million, according to the GSM Association. RCS is the ideal platform for organisations within the financial services sector to ensure improved engagement levels with their customer base, and that builds on the traditional methods of communicating with clients within this space, such as text, voice or email.
RCS can be considered a standards-based upgrade to SMS, which can deliver a rich messaging experience to users. For example, it supports image and video sharing, mapping direction, location sharing and enables Rich Business Messaging communications between brands and consumers.
Another compelling reason for RCS uptake among organisations is that this messaging service comes native on customer phones, and not as individual apps that must be downloaded. It is, therefore, ideally positioned as a solution that is primarily engineered to deliver personalised services to users.
The importance of personalised services, in terms of client retention and enhanced customer experience (CX), is underpinned by findings from cross-industry research, which shows that 63% of consumers are interested in personalised recommendations and communication.
Yet, there are also other benefits that financial services institutions can leverage through the adoption of this messaging service. RCS is a phenomenal technology that comes with great technical superiority, as well as simplicity. This makes it easy for customers to use and understand, while also being a fairly simple solution for organisations to complete financial transactions. RCS is designed to provide Banks with different services such as bank statement, payment, apply for loan, request for credit card, Bank & ATM locator. Furthermore, RCS comes with functionalities tailored for banks with data such as deep-linking for web-based campaigns and payment via conversational commerce such as those that occur via chatbots or social media.
Traditionally, banking and other financial activities have always required a significant amount of paperwork and documentation, as well as the physical presence of a customer at a banking branch, for instance. By leveraging RCS in the Francophone region, financial institutions in this area can do away with paper-heavy environments, as well as the need to maintain physical branches, allowing for cost reduction and streamlining of operations.
At the same time, it also delivers the desired CX, as customers can interact with their financial institutions over their preferred channel, in their own time. RCS has the ability to support genuine conversations between customers and Artificial Intelligence-powered bots.
Availability of service
While there are no evident drawbacks to RCS technology itself, and the service has been warmly welcomed by the financial services industry, the only challenge is the availability of the service in specific regions.
In Francophone Africa, there is only one mobile network operator that offers RCS. Other key operators need to start looking at offering this service too, as it will allow financial institutions to better engage with their customer base.
At this stage, RCS is continuing to gain traction around the world, with 89 operators, in 169 countries offering the service. Another 47 mobile network operators are expected to start offering the platform by the end of this year, and it is likely that monthly active users will grow to half a billion at the same time.
While the uptake of RCS may still be gaining traction, its adoption is expected to significantly accelerate over the next few years. The challenge that many brands and organisations will face is knowing exactly when to strike – those that wait too long could find themselves struggling to keep up in this rapidly evolving landscape of enterprise messaging.