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What are SMS (Text Message) Payments?


When using SMS payments, the customer receives a text message with payment instructions on his mobile phone, which may require a reply with a specific word or a click on a link to complete the payment process. The mobile payment provider then processes the payment and finalizes the transaction between the purchaser and the vendor.

December 3rd 1992 was a day for technological evolution as the world’s first SMS greeting “Merry Christmas” was sent by Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old software developer working for Vodafone UK, to his colleague Richard Jarvis. The service has greatly evolved since, and SMS is not only used for texting each other, but also for payments, bookings and appointments, sales offers, notifications and much more.

How Payments Are Made Using SMS or Text Messages

Payment Link

This is the fastest way for both customers and merchants, offering a range of payment options. The merchant sends the customer a unique payment link which opens a webpage to complete the transaction. The customer can use a previously stored card or enter new card details, making the payment process easy to complete.

Smart-Text Payment Link

Businesses can send custom text messages to a list of mobile numbers. The system can determine whether the recipient is a current customer, with a card saved against their account (tokenised), and depending on the outcome, it will deliver one of 2 messages requesting payment. If they have a saved card it will simply ask if they’d like to reply with a code such as “YES” or “PAYNOW” to debit their account, or it will send them a link taking them to a branded pre-filled payment page to process their payment. At this stage, the card can also be tokenized to speed up future transactions.

A Direct Text

The customer can pay by sending a text message from their mobile phone to a number, known as a short code, which is assigned to a business. The payment is then added to the customer’s monthly phone bill or charged to a payment method on file (credit card, debit card, or bank account). This is quite common for charities or competitions. For example: “Text DONATE to 111222”.

Benefits of Using SMS Payments

  • Convenience and ease. Customers can pay anytime, from anywhere in the world using a device that most people use in their everyday lives. All you need is an internet signal.
  • Quick. It only takes a few seconds for the SMS to get to the recipient, while it can take multiple phone calls, over a longer time, to successfully talk to someone
  • Cost saving. The average cost of an SMS payment service is much lower than employing multiple agents to conduct hundreds of phone calls a day.

Compared to mailed bills, emailed invoices, and other traditional methods of asking for payment, using SMS and text message can create faster results by reaching buyers through a more convenient platform. It can also broaden the number of payment methods you accept, and empower your customers to use smartphone wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.


Did You Know?

SMS has a 209% higher response rate than a phone call, e-mail, or Facebook
Statistics have proven that 63% of people prefer communicating via text message over most other forms of message delivery. Text messages get delivered right away, without the need for an internet connection or strong mobile signal. There is no “spam folder,” and it’s not overcrowded like e-mails.

83% of Digital Marketing Agencies confirm that text messages are more effective than e-mail marketing. The average open rate for an SMS campaign is as high as 98%, while e-mail rings in at just 20%.

How Can You Send SMS Payment Messages?

Individually to Customers

During a one-to-one discussion over the phone, online, or through messaging systems. Simply ask for the customer’s mobile number and use an SMS payment tool to send them a unique text message there and then.

In Bulk and Mass Send

By uploading a database file you can send hundreds or thousands of SMS payment requests.
Ideal for chasing debt or outstanding order payments.

Automated Send

Connecting to your website, sales, or customer management systems, SMS payments become an extension of the tools your staff already uses.
Text messages can be sent out when an order reaches a certain stage, or if a payment is outstanding. Once payment is made, the system can automatically update.

All of these options are available with our Click-to-Pay service, to give organisations maximum flexibility and collect payments in a way that suits their operations.

What’s the Future of SMS Payment Messages and RCS?

RCS stands for Rich Communication Services. This was made by Google to offer non-Apple phone users a competitive alternative to iMessage. It enhances SMS messages with pictures, videos, and more branding options, beneficial for organizations that are communicating with customers.

At this moment in time, however, it’s not fully supported across Android devices and there are concerns Apple phone users are likely to continue to use iMessage.

As an organization, work with a provider who will be able to develop their service in line with market trends. They should talk to you about the latest technological changes that may benefit you.

How to Get Started with SMS Payments

Key IVR’s Click-to-Pay solution is a secure SMS payments option that can help businesses receive payments more quickly and efficiently, whilst drastically reducing the risk of fraud for customers.

This secure pay-by-link service allows organizations to send a personalized SMS to individual recipients, linking to a secure online payment portal prefilled with as much or as little information as you require. If the card has been securely saved on the account, all card information is pre-filled out, or new card details can be entered to complete the process. A follow-up SMS is also sent as a payment receipt.

Aside from convenience, Click-to-Pay has the added benefit of tokenization, allowing customers to save their card details for future use, further adding to the convenience of repeat transactions and increasing customer loyalty.

IIf you’d like to find out more about how we can help with SMS payments, request a demo below or get in touch today – call +44 (0) 1302 513 000 or email us at


Request an SMS Payments Demo

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