By Staff Writer

South Africa’s 35 million plus mobile consumers are set to benefit from a next generation SMS (Short Message Service) service which can replace the two-decade-old USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Data Service) and zero-rate it to boot.

Archer Digital’s SMS+ is already in commercial use by one of South Africa’s big four banks and is currently being trialled by a leading multimedia company.

“SMS+ has the potential to completely replace USSD. This means over 35 million people needn’t pay 20 cents per 20 seconds to interact with old-style USSD menus. That’s an incredible saving to local consumers who now have to contend with an economy in recession,” says Ongopotse Motlhanke, chief operations officer of Archer Digital.

Archer Digital is a global provider of mobile engagement solutions and has been operating in South Africa since 2006 where it is an active member of the country’s Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) and Direct Marketing Association.

“Many consumers struggle with USSD and find it clumsy as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) messaging technology. SMS+ enables a much more personalised and intelligent interaction between corporations and their customers,” said Motlhanke.

While USSD’s best-known application is the ‘Please Call Me’ service, applications beyond this hugely successful product often struggle from the consumer’s inability to remember lengthy USSD codes which can run into ten digits.

SMS+ takes the conversational element of USSD and adds layers of simplicity and functionality while greatly enhancing consumer-facing reliability. Instead of featuring a transient USSD menu that countless mobile users have seen disappear for no apparent reason, SMS+ does not require new sessions for each new interaction by the user and consumers can store SMS+ messages in their inboxes as useful references.

Archer Digital has created, built and executed mobile initiatives and campaigns across the globe. The firm has developed industry best practices by delivering country-specific mobile initiatives from mobile bank statements in South Africa to personalised marketing videos in the U.S.

“We expect tremendous uptake for SMS+ from organisations wanting to engage in two-way communication with their customers that offers a degree of intelligence while adding the zero-rated aspect for even greater client service,” said Motlhanke.