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This article was published on March 2, 2015

What types of companies are using SMS?

What types of companies are using SMS?
Jamie Tolentino
Story by

Jamie Tolentino

Jamie Tolentino is currently working as a Digital Marketer at a Global Asset Management firm. She was previously an Innovation Strategist at Jamie Tolentino is currently working as a Digital Marketer at a Global Asset Management firm. She was previously an Innovation Strategist at Quirk London. Aside from writing for TNW, she also blogs on the Huffington Post UK.

Most of us know SMS as a simple communication tool to quickly send messages, but as we’ve covered in the past few weeks, SMS is more than just an easy way to chat. Many businesses rely on SMS to operate creatively and effectively in application-to-person (A2P) SMS, where an app delivers messages to a mobile subscriber. This allows companies to deliver SMS en masse to their customers or target market.

So who are the people utilizing this route, and why? Here are several types of companies and their SMS use cases.

Social networks

Social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, are dedicated sites or applications which allows its users to communicate with each other by posting information, comments, messages, images, etc. But before you can get to all that social networking, you need to confirm that you are who you say you are.

As these sites are integrated with people’s personal lives, it is important for social networks to protect the accounts and information of its users. Two-factor authentication has therefore become a popular method to provide account security.

log in approvals

Facebook has an opt-in security feature called Login Approvals, which requires users to enter a code that Facebook texts to your phone when they log in from an unrecognized computer. This helps to prevent  hackers from ‘fraping’ people’s accounts

Similarly, Twitter has an opt-in login verification feature where the user is sent a code every time they sign in to twitter.com to verify their identity. By requiring the user to have their phone on hand, this provides an extra layer of security which makes it harder for unauthorised people to get access to genuine accounts.

Other networks like WePopp, a cloud-based event planning app, go further to provide event invitations via SMS which allowed friends to respond faster than the invitations sent out via email or Facebook, or for those not on the social network at all.

Consumer Web properties

A consumer Web property is an asset which represents an individual on the Web. This can take the form of a website, blog, social media account, etc.

Similar to social networks, consumer Web properties have to be secure because they represent an individual’s identity online and can be used as a communication channel with the individual the web property represents. Therefore, two-factor authentication is again a popular method to ensure account security.

WordPress, a personal publishing platform which allows the creation of free websites or blogs, offers it users the option of having two-factor authentication via SMS. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are also large companies that uses 2FA to secure user email accounts.

Travel and transportation

Travel and transportation companies often have important time-sensitive contextual information that would be beneficial to their customers. Therefore, these are best delivered via SMS.

Alerts and notifications are usually delivered via SMS if the information is critical to the customer’s ability to make their planned journey, as well as links to boarding passes as soon as you’ve checked in via mobile.

Uber sends riders text messages when their ride requests are accepted and when drivers have arrived. This gives customers time to prepare and look out for their rides. The SMS also prompts customers to browse the app to see their driver’s current location, photo, car make and license plate.


Airlines also use SMS for delivering crucial information. KLM informs their customers of gate changes, delays, cancellations and arrival of delayed baggage via text. Emirates sends a customer their flight number, date of departure/arrival, airport and terminal number and flight status when a flight is delayed. This enables the consumer to react appropriately and plan for the delay.

Qantas and Delta also offer family and friends of travelers the chance to stay informed of their traveling friend or loved one’s journey via SMS alerts. They will be sent a text message if there are changes to departure or arrival times, cancellations or diversions.

Two way messaging is also offered by some travel companies. Jet Airways provide customers the ability to perform low fare searches and receive account updates via SMS. Lufthansa also lets customers request arrival and departure information for any flight. This empowers the customers to receive important information in a fast and convenient manner.

Financial services and payments

Financial services and payments sectors are also opening up their mobile channel to make services more accessible to the consumer. M-Pesa, a mobile money transfer and microfinancing service based in Africa, allows people to send and receive money via SMS on the go. Similarly, PayPal allows a user to send and request money via SMS.


Mobile banking is also becoming a popular trend allowing people to request mini-statements or balance updates via text. HSBC provides its customers with a text banking service which allows them to set up customized alerts for their their balance is above or below a certain amount or just weekly mini-statements. This helps customers be more aware of their money spending habits without having to log into their bank account.

When it comes to security, users are most concerned when it has to deal with finance and payments. 2FA plays a key role to ensure that users private financial information is secure and less likely to be hacked.


Online gambling is a lucrative market that is being challenged by fraudsters on almost a daily basis. Online attacks exploit the inability to ensure authenticity of the user and the transactions they initiate. This results in dollars of stolen funds from numerous upset customers.

Most online fraud occurs when users suffer sophisticated electronic attacks and have their online identity compromised without their knowledge. Usually, their username and password is stolen and used for impersonation to conduct in-game activities at the hacker’s will.

Rolling dice

The problem lies in insecure static passwords which are easy to steal or crack, thus providing almost no security. Therefore, two-factor authentication is a popular method to easily can add a layer of security to make a user’s account more secure, as seen with large gaming companies like Blizzard and Wargaming.

Some mobile games also utilize SMS as a form of social invitation, allowing the player to select friends off their contact list to download the game. This bypasses the need for friends to be on the same social platform or specific gaming device and network.

E-commerce/online retail

E-commerce or online retail is another big area of SMS growth. Sending shipping notifications and purchase confirmations are beneficial to customers as they can act upon their order or delivery instantly.

Amazon offers its sellers an SMS service that will alert sellers when they receive an order. Sellers are also able to request an SMS with information regarding list of unshipped orders and details of a selected order. This enables the seller to dispatch their orders in a timely fashion.

Amazon also offers a service called text trace for buyers to track packages dispatched by Amazon (if the order has been dispatched by a trackable service). This saves the buyer from needing to manually check the delivery room or mailbox for more urgent deliveries.

Many types of companies take advantage of integrating SMS into their business strategy: restaurants, social networks, Web services, banks – the list goes on. Thanks to its high open rate and low barrier to communication, the possibilities continue to grow for companies to creatively use this platform for customer service.

Read next: The challenges of SMS on a global scale

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