Flash calls: The biggest dilemma!

The first thing you can think of when you hear the buzzword “Flash call” is The Flash, alias, the Fastest Man alive. The latter embodies the ultimate speed, which is a core element in today’s digital world. Whether we wanted it or not, we’ve stepped into a new era where everybody is looking for speed, especially Businesses. The biggest proof is that most of them have already embraced the agile mode to accelerate the pace.

In the telecom field, flash calls are the latest verification method – enabling user authentication in a flash without the hassle of going back and forth between messages and the app! However, this trend represents the dilemma of the century since the industry’s key players are still debating and reconsidering how these calls should be defined. 

What are Flash calls? 

In a nutshell, Flash calls represent an authentication method that uses a missed call as a way of bypassing to provide a one-time password (OTP). In other words, it’s a replacement for the formerly known routine of sending an OTP via SMS.   

The phenomenal rise of Flash Calls 

Based on Juniper Research, the market size of flash calls is estimated to reach 128 bn calls in 2026. But why this sudden rise in Flash Calls? In fact, businesses have been recently shifting from SMS to flash calls as the default authentication technique. Compared to SMS, they present lower costs, improved customer experience, and security, which makes it a more appealing option for businesses.  

CPaaS providers serve as an excellent example of utilizing Flash Call services to provide an alternative and cost-effective solution for enterprises while avoiding A2P SMS fees. Unlike traditional SMS or IVR calls for OTP (One-Time Password) authentication, missed calls do not incur direct costs- Since calls are not answered, they do not generate any revenue for the receiving network. As a result, Flash Calls have become a highly attractive option for CPaaS providers to generate revenue, as they enjoy a 100% gross margin on these services. This innovative approach benefits both enterprises and CPaaS providers, offering a more economical and efficient communication solution while maximizing profitability for the providers. 

In addition to being cost-effective, Flash calls provide a seamless and non-intrusive experience for customers by providing a frictionless authentication process especially since there is no need for the customer to answer the call. Not to mention that they are quick and instant; businesses get to deliver OTPs and authentication codes to customers in real time.  

On the other hand, Flash calls offer an additional layer of security as the call is made directly to the customer’s registered phone number, hence reducing the risk of interception or unauthorized access to authentication codes. In terms of delivery rates, they generally have higher delivery rates compared to SMS, as they don’t rely on network congestion or delivery issues related to text messages. Last but not least, besides being used for a wide range of purposes, including two-factor authentication (2FA), password reset, account verification, transaction confirmations, and more, Flash calls can be utilized globally, making them ideal for businesses with an international customer base. 

A threat for Operators? 

The increasing adoption of flash calls as an alternative to delivering One-Time Passwords (OTP) via SMS has raised justifiable concerns for telcos. As more businesses opt for flash calls as their default authentication method, telcos have been experiencing a decline in SMS-related revenue, which is impacting their earnings from traditional messaging services. 

The main issue is that until now, there has been no seamless solution for MNOs to control the Flash Calling environment; since calls are not answered, they do not generate any revenue for the receiving network. Not to mention that the current technology stack of MNOs does not allow them to identify and charge Flash Calls. So, from the operator’s standpoint, flash calls reduce revenue, disrupt relations with interconnect partners, and overload networks.

However, the biggest challenge remains how to accurately detect flash calls. Indeed, distinguishing genuine flash calls from regular missed calls presents a significant challenge, even for advanced AI-powered fraud management systems. The distinction requires AI engines to undergo extensive training on large datasets of relevant traffic and thorough analysis of numerous call parameters. 

Block them or monetize them? 

The handling of flash calls remains a topic of debate within the industry, and a clear consensus has not yet been reached. The key question revolves around whether flash calls should be treated similarly to spam and fraudulent traffic and blocked or if a monetization model should be developed for this verification channel, similar to application-to-person (A2P) SMS. 

Different industry players have varying perspectives on the matter, and the decision ultimately depends on several factors, including the prevalence of flash call abuse and its impact on network resources and revenue streams. Striking the right balance between blocking flash calls to ensure network integrity and exploring potential monetization opportunities to leverage their benefits is a complex challenge. 

Wrapping up

Flash calls are here to stay. In the meantime, stakeholders must collaborate to understand the potential implications and assess the feasibility of implementing a monetization model for flash calls. With the evolution of technology and fraud management systems, finding a solution that aligns with the interests of businesses, telcos, and end-users remains an ongoing process.

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