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What does the rise of WhatsApp mean for SMS?

What does the rise of WhatsApp mean for SMS?

As far back as 2012 telecoms experts were predicting the demise of SMS and the advance of data driven messaging apps that were on the rise. It’s human nature to believe that the future is always going to be more sophisticated. Whilst this is true in some respects, many of the cornerstones of digital life remain deeply embedded in our technology. Almost 10 years later, SMS is the world’s largest form of B2C communication and continues to prove the 2012 naysayers wrong.

However, they were not entirely wrong; our much loved WhatsApp chat engine opened up to businesses officially at the end of 2018 and whilst the uptake has been slow to start, businesses in Africa are laying down world beating statistics proving how powerful rich 2-way instant chatbot communication can be. Top 5 African fintech business, Mukuru, has in the region of 10,000,000 WhatsApp messaging chats a month. Retail giant Shoprite boasts a similar number of interactions for their loyalty and rewards campaign being delivered over WhatsApp.

Use of this medium by leading African businesses have highlighted several key points:

1) Communities in Africa love WhatsApp.

2) They are very happy and often prefer to communicate with business through WhatsApp.

3) It suits the consumers’ pockets.

What the experts got wrong back in 2012, was not that SMS would die, but that it would be greatly complimented by data driven chat apps like WhatsApp. SMS serves as a super robust, ubiquitous communication channel, perfect for delivering time critical notifications in a secure manner. Conversely Whatsapp gives businesses a personality to deliver to its customers, satisfying Millennials’ and Generation Zs’ instant gratification crazes. The bottom line – Whatsapp is a super powerful communication tool that allows businesses to engage millennial customers fast and efficiently. Additionally, more information about customer behaviour can be analysed.

A point to note is Generation Z and Millennials combined make up more than 75% of Africa’s population.

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