16th - Dec - 2016

Nine statistics that outline the problem of fraud in the mobile messaging industry

Messaging is the most popular form of person-to-person communication. Latterly the rise of chat apps has captured consumer attention yet SMS endures.

Buoyed by the growth in enterprise or application-to-person (A2P) messaging, analyst firm mobileSQUARED forecasts the A2P market to be worth $58 billion by 2020 (rising from $12.88 billion in 2015). Elsewhere, a recent report from Telefónica indicates that yearly volume of SMS messages sent is 8.3 trillion.

Banks, doctor’s surgeries, media companies and charities are all embracing Application-to-Person (A2P) SMS as the most effective channel for engaging with their audiences. And where a consumer channel is effective, it’s also a fact that it is attractive to fraudsters too, and messaging, just like email, is no exception.

More than a quarter of mobile users receive a spam message every day. That’s the headline statistic of MEF and CLX’s recent Mobile Messaging Fraud Report 2016 that indexed the experience of mobile fraud from 6,000 consumers across nine countries.

Below we’ve outlined nine more stats from the report that explore the growing problem of fraud in the mobile messaging ecosystem.

Spam is prevalent within SMS and chat apps

  • 28 per cent of SMS users receive an unsolicited text message every day and 58 per cent receive at least one a week. Only 16 per cent of consumers have never received one.

  • 26 per cent of users of chat apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger receive an unsolicited text message every day, while 49 per cent receive at least one a week. 28 per cent have never received one.

  • Spam is worst in mobile first economies. The two highest rates in the world are South Africa and Nigeria with a daily spam count of 73 and 76 per cent respectively.


It may be that the majority of spam messages are not much more than a nuisance, notifying the user of an unwanted service. SMiShing like its email equivalent, phishing, is more sinister. It aims to trick the consumer into disclosing personal data such as bank details or passwords for online services by masquerading as a legitimate service or brand that the consumer is familiar with (like their bank).

  • 33 per cent of mobile users have received a SMiShing message.

  • These messages are designed to be convincing so its perhaps more alarming that 21 per cent of users indicated that they weren’t sure if they had received a SMishing message or not.

  • As with spam, the problem is more prevalent in growth markets. The percentage of consumers receiving a phishing text in Brazil, China, South Africa and Nigeria is 39, 47, 48 and 60 per cent respectively.

  • Chat app users, probably because as a media it is relatively new to fraudsters, receive fewer SMiShing messages at 23 per cent.

In terms of trust, SMS wins

  • Over a third (35 per cent) of consumers indicate that SMS is their most trusted channel whilst 28 per cent trust messaging apps the most and 18 per cent chose Facebook, Yahoo and Skype.

  • The only countries to depart from a trust preference for SMS were Brazil and China, where messaging apps were more trusted (50 and 38 per cent respectively).

Even though the overall amount of SPAM in messaging is still significantly below 1% of the overall volumes, clearly stakeholders in the messaging ecosystem need to establish more effective controls in how messaging is delivered and managed. The closing down of grey routes (which fraudulently ride on the dedicated P2P connections of operators) by using SMS and SS7 firewalls, closing loopholes in P2P OTT messaging and practices like introducing easily understood processes for consumers to report pernicious offenders, will go a long way to nourishing consumer trust in the messaging medium and establish the basis for a sustainable future for the messaging medium.

Author: Rob Malcolm, VP Marketing & Online Sales at CLX Communications

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