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TelarixMarch 10, 20243 min read

Overcoming the Complexities of RBM Billing for Conversational Commerce

Compared to RBM Billing, SMS Billing is relatively straightforward. Brands work directly with operators or aggregators to deliver SMS messages to their consumers. The operator then bills  the brand or aggregator the cost to terminate that SMS over their network. Operators usually apply differentiated offerings, including volume-based or other brand-specific rates, on top of SMS transactions. 

Learn More About SMS A2P

RBM Adds a Level of Complexity to A2P Messaging

Rich Communication Services (RCS) allows brands to use the platform to send rich messages to RCS-enabled Android devices. RCS Business Messages (RBM) can be rated as basic messages, single messages, P2A messages, or as A2P or P2A conversations (also referred to as conversational commerce). As such, rich messaging equates to a more complicated billing process.  

Presently, a basic RBM message will typically cost the same as a domestically rated SMS message. A basic message is exactly that – pretty much an SMS with a tie on. A single message, on the other hand, provides a much richer experience and can contain anything from an image, or a video to a carousel. A single RBM message will often include a premium of 20-30% on top of the basic RBM rate, depending on the market.

One must also consider the conversational commerce component when billing RBM. A message transforms into a conversation when a consumer replies over RCS. This process initiates a session, which Google has determined will last for 24 hours. If the consumer responds after 24 hours and the original session has closed, a new session will be opened, and an additional charge applied.

Google’s RBM billing process creates RBM data files that report user and agent activity on summary and transactional levels. The Billing Event Reports and Activity Logs generated by the Google Jibe platform have a two-day delay in their generation, primarily due to Google generating a report when the billing session is complete, which is where the billing process becomes complicated. Sessions can remain open for up to 24 hours, and Google’s platform is limited to generating one billing report per day, which means the actual billable data is not available until 48 hours after the initial message. 

There are three core options for operators when billing RBM traffic. They can bill manually, use automated billing, or outsource billing as a managed service. In addition, there are nuances to these billing models that can be applied depending on the operator or aggregator’s existing billing assurance platform, and perhaps more importantly, their willingness to invest.

The more advanced operators can have their own RCS platform sit in front of RBM allowing them to capture information, such as MSISDN, enabling them to complete a full audit trail. It’s not unheard of for operators to use their own RCS Gateway, linked to an API gateway connecting brands to send and receive messages, to generate accurate messaging data—which it also shares with Google—allowing them to have more information for billing RBM messages.

Due to low traffic volumes (at least at present), operators rate and bill RBM  traffic manually today. This provides the flexibility to offer bespoke volume and pricing package deals to brands. The low traffic volumes have also not justified an investment in an automation platform. 

When RBM traffic volumes start to experience exponential growth from 2024 onwards, as anticipated, manual billing will not be able to process the data generated by RBM, let alone the split in the different message types. At this point, operators will need to (and can) justify their investment in an automated billing platform. 

TOMIA Telarix’s RBM billing platform combines all the advantages of automated billing with the flexibility to offer personalised volume and pricing deals. It removes the complexity of rich messaging for operators, enabling them to process high volumes of traffic based on variable pricing requirements. Conversational commerce… no problem!

Find out more about the RBM billing challenges and future growth perspectives in our white paper, created in partnership with Mobilesquared.

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