Getting an unsolicited text message can be annoying — and threatening. When a business sends a message, it’s often from a random number, so it’s hard for recipients to know whether they can trust it. And even then, it’s not difficult for criminals to spoof a sender identity on a text message, which makes SMS an attractive channel for bad actors. Their messages can include links to sites that steal authorization credentials or personal information, a form of phishing that some people call smishing (but we’re not going to, because what an awful word).
It was only a matter of time before someone came up with a way to instill trust in businesses’ outgoing messages, and that someone is Google. Verified SMS is a new service that adds sender verification and branding to business SMS messages so recipients can trust incoming messages at a glance.
How Google Verified SMS works
With Google Verified SMS, a business can register source phone numbers with Google through a messaging provider partner. Then Google verifies each message the business sends and includes the sender’s business name and logo and a verification badge in the message thread.
To receive Verified SMS messages, individuals must tick a setting in the Messages app on their Android device. Today, Verified SMS only works with Android version 5.2 or greater, and it’s not available globally. The service has launched in nine countries to start:
- United States
- United Kingdom
Look for Google to offer support in more countries in the future.
Verified SMS and RCS
The new service uses the Rich Communications Services (RCS) protocol, a global protocol available to all carriers for sending messages with more functionality than the older SMS standard. The GSM Association, which is responsible for RCS, has published a Universal Profile that, when supported by mobile network operators and hardware manufacturers, guarantees compatible interconnections. Last year the four major US carriers agreed on a Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative to jointly implement RCS in a way that’s compatible with the Universal Profile. However, Verified SMS is a Google-only initiative that works only through Google’s Messages app. In November, Google announced that every Android user (except those in China and Russia) can use RCS by setting Android Messages as their default texting app.
Eventually, RCS will provide end-to-end encryption by default, which will make it more secure than SMS. For now, the encryption feature is in beta and works only on one-on-one chats when both parties use Android Messages.
Google Verified SMS helps businesses enhance their conversations with users, build trust, and prevent scams. Sign up for our newsletter to get notified when this is available to Plivo customers.