Firms still prefer SMS 30 years after first message

Infobip Regional Head for East Africa Marko Reis. [File, Standard]

Research from global cloud communications platform Infobip shows the global popularity of Short Message Service (SMS) within customer communications remains immensely popular despite the rise of new communication channels, with a 75 per cent increase in use in 2022 compared to 2021.

This is 30 years after a software programmer, the 22-year-old Neil Papworth sent the first message on December 3, 1992.

Infobip analysed over 153 billion communications interactions on its platform from the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

The study shows that SMS remains a top three channel in every region worldwide including Africa, Europe, Eurasia, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, India and Asia-Pacific.

With the highest open rates and return on investment, Infobip's analysis shows businesses and brands continue to use SMS for alerts and security solutions, including two-factor authentication.

Highlighting the versatility of the channel, data from the analysis shows SMS made up 16 per cent of total customer engagement and marketing interactions. As one of the most reliable and practical ways for brands to ensure their message reaches their customers, SMS is the go-to channel for time-sensitive alerts and security notifications. With its global reach and no reliance on internet connectivity, we expect SMS to continue to play a key role in future business-to-consumer communications," said Infobip Chief Business Officer Ivan Ostojic.

Infobip also finds that many sectors continue to rely on SMS. For instance, banking and finance saw 68 per cent more SMS interactions, where firms use SMS for timely alerts, retail and e-commerce recorded 22 per cent more SMS interactions.

Where brands use it for retail marketing automation, telecoms saw 48 per cent more SMS interactions, while in areas where firms rely on SMS for reliable, secure messaging with an international customer base. After working with companies from different industries across the East African region for more than ten years, Infobip Regional Head for East Africa Marko Reis (pictured), reflected on the evolution of SMS in the region.

"Mobile text messaging has become the core feature of the smartphone era in Africa. With over 220 million subscribers in East Africa, it is impossible to underestimate the importance and impact of this technology on emerging markets, "he said.

"Due to inconsistent data connectivity throughout the continent, SMS remains at the centre of most communications activity across Africa and will continue to drive how people and businesses connect with each other. Infobip's built-in compliance engine ensures that messages that businesses send comply with local law."