News Roundup: December 2021

3 min read

Did you know that the very first SMS was sent out in 1992? Curious to know what it said? Find out in our monthly summary of all the December news in the telecoms and business messaging space.

New Viber business features to help brands succeed in 2022

Our friends and partners over at Viber recently announced that they are launching new features for their Viber business messaging customers. The headline feature of the update is that now brands will be able to send video to their customers, which is really exciting. Not only that, but brands can add text and a button to their videos, which could come in handy with big video campaigns.

They’ve added a few new features for users as well to make talking with brands via Viber easier. Users can now pin messages in a thread, send files, photos, and videos to brands and reply to specific messages. They’ve also added an excellent quality of life feature where tapping and holding on a number automatically copies it for the user to paste elsewhere. Great for offer codes!

Finally, brands will be able to use autoreplies. These will work just like an out-of-office email, so you can automatically let users know vital information like customer service team availability.

WhatsApp rolls out mobile payments pilot in the US powered by crypto

WhatsApp is launching a pilot programme in the US to allow its users to send and receive funds just as easily as sending somebody a file or photo. They’ve partnered with a cryptocurrency wallet service called Novi, and pilot users will have to create or use existing accounts to take part.

Novi uses a currency called Pax Dollars, which is specifically a relatively stable cryptocurrency backed by the US dollar. Interestingly Meta, WhatsApp’s parent company, has already created their own cryptocurrency called Diem, but they have chosen not to use it for this trial.

Sending money via third party services is extremely common in the US, as they do not have the same bank transfer capability built into their banking system that many other countries do. Mobile payments to businesses and consumers is likely to be a considerable part of the messaging ecosystem in future, so this could be a pilot to watch.

Vodafone auctions world’s first SMS “Merry Christmas” as NFT for charity

The first SMS message was sent on December 3rd, 1992 (30 years ago next year!), and it read “Merry Christmas.” Vodafone has turned this historic message, which was originally sent to its UK employee Richard Jarvis, into an NFT — a non-fungible token. They’re auctioning off the NFT to support forcibly displaced persons.

Not familiar with NFTs? An NFT is a piece of data stored on the blockchain, which is essentially an encoded digital ledger. An NFT can be linked to an image such as a piece of art, a video, or in this case, an SMS protocol.

NFTs were a big part of the conversation on social media in 2021. Their ability to tokenise and preserve historically significant digital items is a big draw, though many say that the environmental impact is too high for the value the world gets from them. Also, a small speculatory market has grown around them, trading some NFTs for substantial sums of money. It’s great to see Vodafone using a piece of SMS history to help those in need, but the long-term impact and value of NFTs is yet to be seen.

Mandatory SIM card registration comes into effect in Ukraine

On January 1, 2022, amendments to the law on electronic communications were put in force. According to these new provisions, Ukrainians must use passports to register SIM cards. Also, the law declares a transitional period until January 1, 2025, so the eventual shift should be smooth for Ukrainian subscribers.

The authors of the law state that it should protect Ukrainians against fraudsters who reissue people’s SIM cards intending to gain access to their banking applications.

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