What is A2P Messaging?

A2P stands for Application to Person messaging. These are messages that are sent from an application to a person, for example One Time Passwords, bank alerts or booking confirmations using API or Web App.

If you’ve ever had a hotel reservation and delivery confirmation via messaging channels you’ve benefited from A2P (Application-to-Person) messaging. These types of messages, sent from businesses, are automated by software apps and make up a huge volume of messaging traffic, with billions of messages sent each day.

Not all A2P messages are SMS – but most are. While SMS might not be the latest hot technology, A2P proves it’s alive and well. The number of A2P messages sent each year is over 1.8 trillion, and SMS messages make up 70% of them. What’s more, the market is still growing. SMS confirmations of your transactions, from parcels to flight bookings, are now so common it’s become expected behaviour. No customer service provider can do without them.

What Are the Benefits of A2P Messaging?

A2P Messaging allows businesses to do one-to-one messaging at scale. If you need to reach out to 10,000 people at the same time and need confirmation that each message was delivered, A2P messaging can help. And of course, it’s customisable, so backend databases – like your order delivery information or flight booking – can insert the right information into each short message. A2P Messaging lets you communicate outbound at scale, without losing personalisation options.

There’s another factor that makes A2P Messaging a good outreach choice. People check their phones very quickly when a notification comes in – often within seconds. And the device they receive it on – usually their personal mobile phone – is always within reach. This makes A2P Messaging a great tool for businesses to reach and engage their audience.

Lastly, A2P Messaging is possible through a large number of different channels - from Email and SMS to Conversational Channels like WhatsApp, and even Voice.

What Is the Difference Between A2P and P2P Messaging?

P2P messaging stands for Person-to-Person messaging and A2P messaging means Application-to-Person messaging. The biggest difference between the two is that P2P messages are one-on-one messages sent from another person, while A2P messages are automated messages sent out via applications or software.

P2P messages are personal messages, where a person manually enters each message. A2P messages are more commonly used for commercial and marketing purposes and can be sent to thousands of recipients at once. The differences between A2P and P2P aren’t in the channels themselves, but in how they’re used.

The critical differentiators are:

  • The source of the message. In P2P, it’s a real person – your friend, colleague, or customer service representative – composing and sending the message. With A2P, it’s a software application connected to a messaging platform like an SMS gateway. The big advantage, of course, is that Application to Person can send thousands of messages in minutes.

  • One-way and two-way. While A2P messages can be automated to also reply to queries (by implementing a chatbot), they cannot 100% mimic a human conversation (yet). Most A2P Messages are one-way messages - there is no expectation for a reply. P2P Messaging is a two-way street and replies are expected.

  • Automated versus manual. With A2P, most messages are sent out automatically in response to some triggering event, such as a seat reservation being confirmed. In a conversation between human beings, of course, it’s a completely manual process, dependent on the time and interest each person has in the conversation.

At its core, an A2P message seems no different to a P2P, or Person-to-Person message, taking the same format and using the same network technology. In fact, the familiarity of channels like SMS and messaging apps is why marketers and organisations find A2P such a useful technology choice. Because people use these channels to chat with friends, arrange get-togethers, and share interesting information, they’re deeply trusted and people feel comfortable with them. That’s a great benefit for businesses – a well-proven technology, with clearly identified use cases, communicating clearly from companies to consumers. A2P turns a well-known channel into a tool with a million uses.

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