Vodafone has become the first operator to trial RCS-based messaging for businesses, as it looks to better monetise the tech the telecoms industry has been working on in partnership with Google.

The UK-based company said small-scale trials in Spain had led it to launch live tests with businesses including UK broadcaster ITV and vehicle manufacturer Nissan.

Vodafone Spain tested the service, which enables businesses to send targeted A2P messages to consumers, by promoting its new V-Pet IoT and Secure Net cyber security offerings.

It said the trials delivered consistent click through rates of more than 25 times that of traditional SMS campaigns.

The trial with ITV sees Vodafone working with mobile messaging provider OpenMarket to enhance the text voting and competition entry experience for viewers of the broadcaster’s shows.

Details of the work it is doing with Nissan were not revealed.

Further trials with other unnamed companies will be launched “in the coming weeks and months”, Vodafone said in a statement.

Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Vodafone, Google and the GSMA teamed up to relaunch RCS two years ago, following Google’s surprise purchase of messaging provider Jibe in 2015.

Others, including Telenor and Telia in Europe, have signed up since to make RCS the default messaging app on Android devices.

Google started to sign up enterprises interested in reaching customers via RCS last year.

The move comes just a month after WhatsApp revealed details of its plans to target the enterprise market.

Amir Sarhangi, Head of RCS at Google, said: “One of the main benefits of RCS business messaging is that people who've already opted-in to SMS messages from a business don't have to do anything at all.

“People will see richer, more interactive messages from businesses they care about right from their SMS inbox.

“This means that brands can provide a host of new features that make it easy to interact and get things done. In the coming months we’ll bring RCS business messaging to more companies globally.”

Stefano Parisse, Group Director Product and Services at Vodafone Group, added: “When you consider the global opportunity for RCS, we haven’t even scratched the surface.

“Mobile business messaging is getting richer and more conversational, increasing customer engagement and adding value to mobile as a channel for brands.

“As one of the leading operators for RCS, Vodafone can offer a more engaging interaction with mobile customers who have already been benefiting from the richer messaging experience for some time.”

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