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Ongoing Evolution of Mobile Messaging Applications

There has been a significant evolution in the range of use cases for Application to Person (A2P) messaging in recent years. Historically, A2P was used for alerts and as a billing mechanism for simple content and services -- for one-off downloads or actions, and for recurring payments.

The latter use case has declined markedly in the past 5 years, due to a combination of the transition to an app-based economy largely driven by card billing and by regulatory action against fraudsters.

A2P Messaging Market Development

The volume of A2P messaging is expected to increase by 20 percent over the next 5 years to more than 2.7 trillion by 2022 -- that's up from 2.1 trillion in 2017, according to the latest worldwide market study by Juniper Research.

The analyst claimed that this growth would be driven by an increase in automated marketing, payments and authentication messages. Note, A2P is defined as an automated SMS message sent from an enterprise to an end user.

The research uncovered that grey route traffic -- defined as A2P traffic veiled as P2P traffic -- will fall by 11 percent between 2017 and 2022. Operators’ efforts, in partnership with SMS firewall providers, in detecting grey routes will continue to be the driving force behind this reduction.

With total SMS traffic forecasts to exceed 30 billion messages per day in 2022, the market study found that Artificial Intelligence (AI) would be required to efficiently analyze the high level of SMS traffic.


"Operators are implementing these services to move as many as possible grey route messages to directly connected routes," said Sam Barker, senior analyst at Juniper Research.  "However, there will be enterprises who are unwilling to pay the additional fees for directly connected A2P services, and operators risk losing this business entirely."

In response to rising enterprise usage of over-the-top (OTT) applications, the research anticipates that telecom service providers will begin roll outs of Rich Communication Suite (RCS) services, combining the high level of reach of SMS messaging and the rich functionality of OTT applications.

Additionally, the research found this increase of enterprise messaging over OTT applications will subsequently create a new use case for A2P SMS traffic. User verification and One Time Passwords (OTPs) will require the ubiquitous nature of SMS services as a starting point.

Furthermore, according to the Juniper assessment, SMS will continue to be required as a fall back option against OTT applications.

Outlook for Regional A2P App Growth

There are significant differences between regions with regard to the usage of A2P. In the Far East & China, for example, the surge in A2P messaging generated is a direct result of OTT players’ success in China, which offer an array of commerce services (banking, P2P money transfer) which in turn utilize A2P SMS for validation and/or authentication.

Juniper has noticed similar patterns developing in South Korea and Japan, where Kakao and LINE have both released business platforms, aimed at service providers wishing to implement A2P OTT rather than SMS.

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