Brands using Google Messages to bombard Indian users with unwanted ads

A query sent to Google India went unanswered.

New Delhi: Several companies and brands are reportedly abusing Google Messages’ RCS (Rich Communication Services) feature in India to bombard users with multiple ads, specifically selling personal loans and life insurances, without their consent.

Multiple users took to social media platforms that RCS ads in Google Messages appear to be coming from “Verified Business” accounts and the frequency of such ads has picked up over the last few months in the country.

The RCS upgrades SMS with branding, rich media, interactivity and analytics. With RCS, businesses can bring branded, interactive mobile experiences, right to the default messaging app.

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According to Google, millions of businesses rely on SMS to communicate with mobile consumers.

RCS Business Messaging upgrades SMS with branding, rich media, interactivity, and analytics. With RCS, businesses can bring branded, interactive mobile experiences, right to the native Android messaging app.

However, users in India now report a deluge of ads, primarily related to personal loans, gambling companies and life insurance, reports 9to5Google.

A query sent to Google India went unanswered.

One user complained on Twitter that he does not even have an active SIM card on his smartphone but even then, he was sent one of these personal loan ads from BankBazaar which is India’s largest fintech co-branded credit card issuer and online platform for free credit score.

“The amount of ads [Google Messages] it’s sending is crazy, multiple every day. Yes, these are NOT messages, these are ads being pushed by the app to Indian users. It’s the default messaging app on most Android phones here,” posted tech tipster Ishan Agarwal on Twitter.

Android Police reported that the problem has been around for about a year, and “complaints appear to be coming overwhelmingly from users based in India”.

“The trend initially blew up with Kotak Mahindra Bank, Bajaj Finserv, Buddy Loan, and PolicyBazaar have turned out to be the biggest offenders,” the report claimed.

While several brands globally use messaging apps and SMS texts to advertise new products, these ads going on in India “are not necessarily the result of a user’s buying activity,” the reports noted.

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