Covid-19 generated remarkable growth in International A2P SMS

Covid-19 generated remarkable growth in International A2P SMS

The COVID-19 pandemic caught everyone by surprise, changing people’s lives right across the world and the impact on our behaviour continues to unfold.


Anam partners with 84 mobile networks across the globe to filter live A2P traffic. Using our advanced analytics capabilities, we have compiled an indicative overview of the effect of the Covid-19 emergency on business messaging during the last few months. In this article we share a glimpse of what we observed to be happening behind the scenes, how business engaged with and was engaged by customers during the initial months of the pandemic.

Increased Social Media Engagement

Aligned with the detection of Covid-19 outbreaks, lockdowns were initiated in many countries between early and late March this year. The confinement led to increased internet activity and people began spending more time on social media and other online services. Due entirely to this new behaviour we observed a clear increase in total A2P volumes with, in some instances, up to 30% growth for some services throughout the lockdown period.

We also observed that usage of established social media brands like Facebook and Instagram increased by as much as 20% and it appears that the pandemic conditions boosted growth of newer channels, most notably Tiktok,  whose traffic demonstrated to us a 20% uplift during the lockdown phase. In terms of sectoral growth, we observed that services like food delivery and online shopping increased by up to 10% during the same time period.


Figure 1: International trend for major social media brands in EMEA region


Lockdown Intensity Impact

Another interesting trend was how the different levels and duration of community lockdown impacted traffic levels in the A2P market.

Figure 2 International A2P traffic in Asian market


The picture above illustrates international A2P traffic patterns in 2 different Asian countries during the Feb to June period. An increase of 15% in International A2P volumes of growth was recorded in Country A where a National lockdown was imposed for a 12-week period starting in late March.  This contrasts with a much more modest increase in Country B where a 3-weeks long regional lockdown occurred during April.

Lockdown intensity impact was not only conspicuous in the Asian region but also in the EMEA region where a stringent National lockdown in place for almost 3 months resulted in an increase of 13% in International A2P traffic. Also, in a large African country, where the lockdown measures were not implemented Nationwide but were limited to only major cities, the impact was insignificant on the International A2P traffic.

Changed lifestyles

The data also throws up some interesting changes in traffic types arising from the sudden change in people’s day to day habits and the emergence of new brands as people adapted to their new lifestyle. For example, brands related to online education and online fitness classes apps became prominent. Furthermore, we saw an increase in notifications and transactional messages as businesses implemented update and notification programmes for their customers in response to their new situation.

Our observation of the impact of Covid19 on certain businesses is well communicated in the following figure showing messaging traffic patterns for a major taxi brand “Grab” in the APAC region.

Figure 3: Grab traffic trend in APAC region


Static Domestic Traffic

While the international A2P traffic flourished, overall levels of domestic A2P traffic remained largely static during lockdown periods. Retail marketing suffered in particular with shops and food outlets closed, while notifications, transactions and alerts traffic increased in line with online commerce growth driven by people based at home. Overall, it is our finding that growth in certain types of domestic traffic, largely government notifications was nullified by decreases in other areas. This conclusion was also echoed by a survey conducted by Mobilesquared* on the impact of Covid on Business messaging.

*Impact of Covid19 on business messaging market, 2020.


SMS is being extensively used as an essential communications channel during the pandemic both by governments and private entities. Growth in international A2P of the order of 30% was recorded across many markets, with a clear relationship between lockdown intensity and traffic increase. New brands and sectors emerged in response to changed habits and it will be interesting to observe if these persist beyond Covid-related lifestyle restrictions.

In our next update we will share findings of our investigation into reported increase in Fraud and Spam on the SMS channel since the emergence of the COVID pandemic.

Dalwinder Jas is a senior analyst at Anam. As part of the company’s A2P Revenue Analytics division, he works closely with Tier 1 customers to generate strong and sustained A2P Revenue performance.