According to a report from Juniper Research this is a growth of 9% year-on-year, largely driven by an “increased need for remote communication during the COVID-19 crisis”.
The new research - Mobile Messaging: Operator Strategies & Vendor Opportunities 2020-2024 - identified integrated payment services in instant messaging apps as key to continuing this growth beyond the end of the pandemic.
And it forecast that instant messaging app developers will partner with payment gateways to offer payment capabilities in apps and increase the overall value proposition.
Juniper reports that the research anticipated that partnerships with retailers will be crucial to growing an instant messaging payments ecosystem - and the addition of payment capabilities in the app will enable retailers to extend their omnichannel strategies into the messaging space.
The research forecast that retailers will capitalise on the established user base of instant messaging applications, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat, as an additional retail channel, and they will then provide services beyond simple messaging alerts, such as payment authentication and processing.
The number of RCS-enabled smartphones will grow by 45% from 2019 to 2020, according to the report forecast, with over 740 million smartphones using RCS services by the end of 2020.
However, despite this growth, it warned that RCS-enabled smartphones would only be 16% of smartphones globally in 2020.
RCS is a next-generation mobile messaging standard supported by mobile network operators that supports media-rich content and payment services.
Given that the research estimated that 84% of smartphones will use mobile instant messaging applications in 2020, it argued that stakeholders cannot wait for RCS to reach high saturation levels to engage with payments - with Juniper Research recommending that vendors should leverage this massive addressable market as an immediate priority.