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Feeling spammed by SMS? That’s because you are

SMS may be dying for personal messaging, but new data from Truecaller reveals South Africans receive the second most SMS spam in the world, as businesses remain reliant.



SMS may be dying as a format for personal message, but it is enjoying a strong afterlife. Individuals have been able to make the switch from expensive SMS, costing up to 80c per message, to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and other tools that cost a fraction of a cent in data charges.

However, businesses wanting to mass-message consumers still depend heavily on SMS. That is keeping the format alive and profitable for the mobile operators, but in turn becoming one of the biggest sources of spam experienced by individuals.

Call-screening service Truecaller has released findings from its Truecaller Insights report that show South Africans on average receive 114 spam SMS monthly, making them the second most spammed in the world.

The report is a look into the top 20 countries affected by both spam SMS and calls in 2019. The third edition of the report highlights that nuisance and unsolicited calls continue to be on the rise around the globe.  Last year, Brazil overtook India as the most spammed country in the world, and as this year’s data shows, Brazil is still on top.

South Africa is not far behind and is still ranking in as one of the most spammed countries in the world, the insights study has revealed that the 1.7 million daily active Truecaller app users receive a total of 25 spam calls monthly, a 20 percent increase from last year’s findings

This year Truecaller also looked at the trends of spam SMS around the world and have been able to pinpoint the top 20 countries that receive the most spam. The data shows that the top countries receiving the most spam via SMS are the emerging markets.

Ethiopians are receiving the highest number of spam SMS in the world, with an average of 119 spam SMS every month. South Africans come in second with a shocking average of 114 spam SMS received every month, on average a South African receives around 4 spam SMS’s each day.

In 2019, Truecaller helped identify 8.6 billion spam SMS globally. 

A closer look at spam calls in South Africa

Scam calls continue to be a big threat for consumers in South Africa (39%). The most common scams are:

  • Tech support fraud, where someone pretends to call from your bank or a company saying that your account has been hijacked and needs your help to take control of it.
  • One ring scam, an unknown number (usually an international number) gives you a missed call and when you call them back you get charged a hefty fee for calling to that number.
  • Job offer scam, someone pretends to be a headhunter calling you to offer you a job but you need to pay a fee in order to get the job.

Also, insurance-related calls have seen a big uptake in the country. Lately, there have been complaints about insurance companies calling people to upsell car insurance – or scammers calling and pretending that your car has been towed away and that you need to pay a fee to get it back. 

In 2019 Truecaller have helped their users block and identify 26 billion spam calls, which is an increase of 18% compared to last year. Furthermore, they have helped identify 116 billion unknown calls, a 56% increase compared to last year. 

What other trends we are seeing?

  • Who are the top 5 markets to receive the most scam related calls in the world? Malaysia (63%), Australia (60%), Lebanon (49%), Canada (48%), South Africa (39%).
  • Digging deeper into the bigger markets, Truecaller found common categories that tie all these spam calls together. The most prominent pattern seen was that operators across the world are the biggest spammers. Another pattern noted was that scam calls is on the rise globally, and spam calls from financial services is increasing.
  • Spam calls in Latin America have been increasing dramatically over the years. This year, the trend is even more clear. The countries that are seeing the biggest increase of spam calls are in Latin America. 5 out of the top 10 most affected markets are in that region.
  • Peru has seen a significant increase of spam calls. Users are now getting on average 30.9 spam calls a month, making Peru the 2ndmost spammed country in the world.
  • The biggest increase of total spam calls comes from Indonesia. Last year Indonesia was ranked 16th, and this year the market jumped up to 3rd place, which makes it the biggest jump we have seen.
  • The country that has witnessed the biggest increase of spam calls in percentage is Lebanon. Users in the market have seen an increase of spam calls going from 2.8 average spam calls/user to 8.6 – that is a 208% increase in a year.
  • Although India has dropped to the 5th place (India used to be the top spammed country in the world), spam calls have been increasing by 15% over the year. Another devastating fact we found during this year is that 1 out of 3 women in India receive sexual harassment or inappropriate calls and SMS on a regular basis.
  • The U.S. continues to be in the top 10 list of the most spammed countries in the world. The market saw a 7% increase of spam calls compared to last year, were it actually was decreasing. Earlier this year we conducted a study in the U.S. and found that phone scams caused Americans to lose 10.5 billion dollars in 2018, and nearly 1 in every 6 American adults falls victim to scam calls. Read more here:
  • New markets to enter our list: UAE, Australia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Lebanon, Nigeria and Egypt.
  • Telco/operators are still the biggest spammers in the world, and scam calls are on the rise globally.

The full report can be found here:


Second-hand smartphone market booms

The worldwide market for used smartphones is forecast to grow to 332.9 million units, with a market value of $67 billion, in 2023, according to IDC



International Data Corporation (IDC) expects worldwide shipments of used smartphones, inclusive of both officially refurbished and used smartphones, to reach a total of 206.7 million units in 2019. This represents an increase of 17.6% over the 175.8 million units shipped in 2018. A new IDC forecast projects used smartphone shipments will reach 332.9 million units in 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6% from 2018 to 2023.

This growth can be attributed to an uptick in demand for used smartphones that offer considerable savings compared with new models. Moreover, OEMs have struggled to produce new models that strike a balance between desirable new features and a price that is seen as reasonable. Looking ahead, IDC expects the deployment of 5G networks and smartphones to impact the used market as smartphone owners begin to trade in their 4G smartphones for the promise of high-performing 5G devices.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, says: “In contrast to the recent declines in the new smartphone market, as well as the forecast for minimal growth in new shipments over the next few years, the used market for smartphones shows no signs of slowing down across all parts of the globe. Refurbished and used devices continue to provide cost-effective alternatives to both consumers and businesses that are looking to save money when purchasing a smartphone. Moreover, the ability for vendors to push more affordable refurbished devices in markets in which they normally would not have a presence is helping these players grow their brand as well as their ecosystem of apps, services, and accessories.”

Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)

2018 Market
2023 Market
North America39.022.2%87.226.2%17.4%
Rest of World136.877.8%245.773.8%12.4%

Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023, Dec 2019.

Table Notes: Data is subject to change.
* Forecast projections.

Says Will Stofega, program director, Mobile Phones: “Although drivers such as regulatory compliance and environmental initiatives are still positively impacting the growth in the used market, the importance of cost-saving for new devices will continue to drive growth. Overall, we feel that the ability to use a previously owned device to fund the purchase of either a new or used device will play the most crucial role in the growth of the refurbished phone market. Trade-in combined with the increase in financing plans (EIP) will ultimately be the two main drivers of the refurbished phone market moving forward.”

According to IDC’s taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a “hand me down” or gained as the result of a person-to-person sale or trade.

The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023 (Doc #US45726219), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2023. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.

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Customers and ‘super apps’ will shape travel in 2020s



Customers will take far more control of their travel experience in the 2020s, according to a 2020 Trends report released this week by Travelport, a leading technology company serving the global travel industry.

Through independent research with thousands of global travellers – including 500 in South Africa – hundreds of travel professionals and interviews with leaders of some of the world’s biggest travel brands, Travelport uncovered the major forces that will become the technology enablers of travel over the next decade. These include:

Customers in control

Several trends highlight the finding that customers are moving towards self-service options, with 61% of the travellers surveyed in South Africa preferring to hear about travel disruption via digital communications, such as push notifications on an app, mobile chatbots, or instant messaging apps, rather than speaking with a person on the phone. This is especially important when it comes to young travellers under 25, seen as the future business traveler, and managing their high expectations through technology.

Mobile takeover

With the threat of super app domination, online travel agencies must disrupt or risk being disrupted. Contextual messaging across the journey will help. Super app tech giants like WeChat give their users a one-stop shop to communicate, shop online, book travel, bank, find a date, get food delivery, and pay for anything within a single, unified smartphone app. Travel brands that want to deliver holistic mobile customer experiences need to think about how they engage travellers within these super apps as well as in their own mobile channels.

Retail accelerated

In the next year, research shows, we will see an accelerated rate of change in the way travel is retailed and purchased online. This includes wider and more complex multi-content reach, more enriched and comparable offerings, more focus on relevance than magnitude, and an increase in automation that enables customer self-service.

“How customers engage with their travel experience – for instance by interacting with digital ‘bots’ and expecting offers better personalised to their needs – is changing rapidly,” says Adrian Roodt, country manager for Southern Africa at Travelport. “We in the travel industry need to understand and keep pace with these forces to make sure we’re continuing to make the experience of buying and managing travel continually better, for everyone.”

Read the full 2020 Trends report here: 2020 Trends hub.

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