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RCS vs WhatsApp: Which is best for business messaging?

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With over 23 billion texts sent globally every day, messaging has become an essential part of how we connect with each other. And lately, there’s been a lot of buzz around Apple adding RCS to iOS 18 this fall which has everyone talking about the future of messaging. 

No matter how you look at it, messaging services are becoming super popular with both users and businesses. In this article, we compare two channels for business messaging, WhatsApp vs RCS, go through their similarities and differences, and look at how they can both be used to engage customers and build better relationships.

WhatsApp vs RCS: Understanding the basics

Knowing the strengths of WhatsApp and RCS messaging individually can help you choose the best way to connect with your customers.


WhatsApp is owned by Meta and is the world’s biggest messaging app, with over 2.7 billion active users in 180 countries. Known for its simple, secure, and reliable messaging, WhatsApp is a crowd favorite, with more than 100 billion messages sent every day!

Countries where WhatsApp is the #1 messaging app

Map shows countries where WhatsApp is the number one messaging app.

Because WhatsApp is so popular, it’s a great choice for enterprises to reach a vast, international audience. Plus, its users trust the channel because WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted no matter which solution you’re using:  

  • The standard messaging app is for personal communication (like text, voice, and video calls) between friends and family. 

  • WhatsApp Business app caters to small- to medium-sized businesses, offering them basic access to business tools.  

  • WhatsApp Business API is for medium- to large-sized enterprises with high-volume messaging demands.  

To use WhatsApp, an individual only needs to download the app, create an account, and then sign in. It doesn’t matter if they have an iPhone or an Android phone – WhatsApp works on both! Brands that want to use a WhatsApp Business solution to communicate with customers must first get opt-in from those customers before messaging them.

WhatsApp Business message

WhatsApp Business' encrypted, rich messaging features makes it ideal for business messaging.


RCS: The next generation messaging standard

Rich Communication Services (RCS) is a messaging protocol for Google/Android users that includes features like multimedia sharing, read receipts, typing indicators, and more. First introduced by the GSM Association (GSMA) to modernize SMS and MMS, RCS offers a more interactive user experience within a smartphone’s native messaging app.

Map that shows where RCS is supported

RCS has operator coverage in a number of different countries, making it a good choice for businesses that operate in these markets.

For business messaging, RCS Business Messaging (RBM) is the application-to-person (A2P) solution, and allows a business to send interactive, branded RCS messages from a verified sender profile directly to their subscribers.

Watch the video to learn from Jan Jedrzejowicz, Director of Product at Google Messages, about the experience his team is creating in Google’s RCS.

RCS chat is available right within an Android phone’s native messaging app like Google Messages, though Apple has announced they’ll support RCS in fall 2024, which could significantly broaden its user reach. Like WhatsApp, RCS requires brands to get customers’ consent before messaging them.

Comparing RCS vs WhatsApp

When it comes to person-to-person (P2P) messaging, RCS and WhatsApp share a lot of features that users love. For example, both applications offer read receipts, group chats, “user is typing” notifications, and more.  

When it comes to A2P messaging, both RCS and WhatsApp make it easy to connect with your audience in meaningful, engaging ways.  

Here are a few business features that they share:  

  • Verified, branded business profiles: Both RCS business messaging and WhatsApp let you create business profiles that showcase important information like your business name, description, address, and more. Businesses on both WhatsApp and RCS have to go through an additional process to become verified.  

  • Rich media support: RCS and WhatsApp let businesses send subscribers rich media like high-resolution images, videos, documents, GIFs, and more.  

  • High open rate: Did you know that 90% of rich media messages are opened within 15 minutes? This means with both WhatsApp and RCS, your audience is likely to read your messages quickly, which is great for timely promotions and updates. 

  • APIs for integration: Both RCS Business Messaging (RBM) and WhatsApp offer APIs that help businesses with high-volume messaging needs. Check out Conversation API for one single integration that offers access to both channels.  

  • Great for conversational messaging: Both channels help businesses have real-time, interactive conversations with customers.  

Of course, there are also a few features that make these two channels different. This table compares the differences between RCS and WhatsApp for business messaging.


RCS Business Messaging (RBM) 

WhatsApp for Business (API) 


Found in the native messaging app on an Android user’s mobile device. 

App-based service (requires users to have the WhatsApp app). 


Android devices. 

All smartphones with the WhatsApp app downloaded. 

User base 

One billion monthly active Android users.  

Almost three billion monthly active WhatsApp users.  

Unique business features 

Branded, verified sender profiles that land in a user’s native messaging inbox.  

WhatsApp offers WhatsApp Flows, click-to-chat ads, business templates, and more.  


Messages on Android are encrypted in transit. 

Messages are end-to-end encrypted


Pay-as-you-go and priced per message or 24-hr conversation. Basic RCS messages are typically comparable to sending SMS.  

WhatsApp Business API charges are based on each 24-hr conversation a business has with a customer and dependent on conversation type. 

Clearly, both RCS and WhatsApp have their strengths, and depending on your goals and business needs, one might be a better fit than the other, or both might work well together. We recommend businesses to first evaluate their audience and messaging needs to determine the best use of these two strategic channels.

For more insights into using each channel for business messaging, learn more about WhatsApp Business API and RCS Business Messaging (RBM).


Can RCS messaging replace WhatsApp?

RCS and WhatsApp share a lot of similarities, and with Apple set to soon support RCS, it might be tempting to go down the path that RCS could someday replace WhatsApp. But we wouldn’t go that far.  

Different messaging channels have unique strengths and customers have their own preferences – so our advice is that instead of thinking of one channel replacing another, think instead about how you can use each channel to provide different experiences for your customers. In some markets, one might be more effective than the other.  

RCS chats are supported by many carriers and Google, which means that it promises a uniform, widely available messaging experience and is enabled default on all new Android devices. Meanwhile, WhatsApp is a single app developed by Meta, so it offers a more controlled but reliable environment with an established user base and end-to-end encryption. 

While all signs suggest that RCS will continue growing exponentially, WhatsApp’s comprehensive messaging tools and existing widespread use make it a solid and reliable option for business communication.

What use cases can RCS vs WhatsApp offer in terms of business messaging?

So how would one go about choosing when to use RCS vs WhatsApp? Let’s explore some common business use cases of each messaging channel to help you decide if there’s one that’s better suited to meet your customer needs.


1. OTPs

One-time passwords (OTPs) are important for helping keep your customers’ online accounts secure. And according to our 2024 research, 45% of customers prefer verification messages to come via messaging channels over email. While OTPs are commonly sent via text messaging, both WhatsApp and RCS also offer solutions. 

When you use WhatsApp to send OTP messages, you’re offering an extra level of security to customers because of WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption. The benefit here is that the messages are protected and only the intended recipient can access the code.  

Meanwhile, some businesses also choose to send OTP messages via RCS because its verified sender feature ensures recipients know who the messages are coming from. And for businesses with high-volume global messaging demands, RCS ensures reliable delivery worldwide.  

EasyPark Group, a leader in the digital parking space, uses RCS to send parking reminders and OTP codes across multiple markets. They send reminders to devices that can support RCS and SMS to those devices that aren’t RCS-enabled.

Watch the video to learn from Alex Keynes, Head of Product – Driver's Experience at EasyPark about how they use RCS messaging to authenticate users and send parking reminders at scale.

This approach has had great results. In Germany, for example, 40% of messages are sent via RCS, with delivery rates over 97%.

Both WhatsApp and RCS are excellent options to send OTPs, and both have a leg up over SMS verification. And when you send OTP messages via WhatsApp or RCS via Conversation API, you can choose either channel to fall back to traditional SMS to ensure your messages are always delivered.


2. Opt-in campaigns

Regardless of the type of mobile marketing campaign you’re running, it’s important that you always have consumer opt-in. This is a required and it’s also best practice! Sending unsolicited messages to anyone is annoying and can lead to hefty fines. 

Both RCS and WhatsApp can help you boost your subscriber base due to their interactive features like buttons and videos. These channels are not only effective individually but can also work together to drive opt-ins as part of an omnichannel marketing strategy.  

For instance, BUT, a leading home furnishing retailer in France, modernized their physical catalog strategy using WhatsApp catalogs, and achieved impressive results: a 75% read rate, 57% click-through rate, and a threefold increase in web traffic. While RCS offers rich carousels for showcasing products, the benefit of using a WhatsApp catalog is that it can contain up to 500 items.

When BUT started using WhatsApp catalogs, they saw it made interactions with customers more engaging, and decided to try to increase their WhatsApp audience using other channels.

RCS also played a role in BUT’s strategy. To grow opt-in WhatsApp audience, they used text messaging, RCS, Instagram, email, and web channels. Notably, RCS was the most successful in helping them grow their base – with a click-through rate of 20%!  

As a result, BUT increase their WhatsApp customer base by 123%. Clearly, using RCS and WhatsApp messages together as part of an omnichannel approach was successful in driving customer engagement and opt-ins. 


3. Personalized promotional messages

No matter how you look at it, today’s customers expect personalized treatment. And it’s crucial for you (and your bottom line!) to understand their preferences and engage accordingly.  

Both WhatsApp and RCS have impressive average open rates – both over 90%. These rates suggest subscribers are eager to engage in ongoing conversations when you reach out. 

With both RCS and WhatsApp, you can send messages that include buttons, suggested replies, and more. And because the messages come from business sender profiles, your customers will know they’re interacting with the right business on either channel.  

Take Picard, for instance, which used RCS to build a conversational experience for holiday menu planning. They tailored menus based on customer preferences like dietary needs and budget, driving them to the Picard website for more details.

Picard Case Study Handset

With RCS, Picard customers could share their dietary preferences, budget, and cooking preferences directly in their phone’s native messaging app.

WhatsApp also offers similar capabilities when it comes to personalized promotions. Check out how METRO Deutschland used WhatsApp to send targeted offers.  

The bottom line? Personalized messaging isn’t about choosing RCS or WhatsApp over the other. It’s about aligning your business goals with who your audience is and where they’re located. Then, you can choose one or both channels to strategically achieve those goals.


4. Customer service and support

Our 2024 research suggests that 38% of consumers prefer working with customer service via mobile messaging channels. Both RCS and WhatsApp, with features like suggested replies and product catalogs, are great options for offering support.  

iFood in Brazil scaled up their customer service with a WhatsApp chatbot. They enabled faster gift card conversions and NPS measurement through surveys with end consumers, restaurants, and employees.

iFood handset with text

iFood uses a WhatsApp chatbot for automated customer support. 

In this example, the results speak for themselves: The AI solution manages 45% of incoming inquiries, cutting delivery costs by 70% and achieving a 91% satisfaction score from onboarded delivery staff! 

RCS offers similar capabilities and can be used alongside a chatbot to provide customer support. See how Macif used RCS to re-engage their five million insurance policyholders as an example.  

Clearly, both RCS and WhatsApp can be used for customer service and support, and in the cases above, both would have their benefits: RCS has full operator support in Brazil and France, and WhatsApp is used by nearly the whole population in these countries. Both channels can also be automated and integrated with chatbots. The key point here is that you should be using the messaging channel or channels that your customers are most comfortable with. This will help make sure they’re engaged and satisfied with your service, making them more loyal customers in turn.

RCS vs WhatsApp: Make moves into conversational messaging

No matter your messaging goals and objectives, moving into conversational messaging has its benefits, and both RCS and WhatsApp can help. Whether you’re using WhatsApp to send secure OTPs or RCS for personalized campaigns, each messaging platform has strengths for engaging customers and enhancing their overall experience with your company. And rather than choose one channel over the other, you can use them both strategically based on your business needs and what your customers prefer.  

For more guidance on conversational messaging and mobile marketing, feel free to check out these additional but related resources:  

Reach out to our team if you have questions or if you’re ready to build a messaging strategy that your customers will love and trust.