Japan-based mobile operators KDDI, NTT Docomo and SoftBank stepped up competition to third party messaging apps in the country with the launch of an RCS-based service branded +message.

In a statement on the launch, first announced by the operators in April, the GSMA highlighted the move as both a positive for consumers in the country and another indicator RCS was gaining global momentum.

GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair said: “RCS is poised for explosive growth this year with more and more operators launching the service, with many interconnecting their networks and numerous brands trialling RCS Business Messaging and we look forward to seeing this continuing over the coming months.”

The Japanese operators went live with the consumer service today (9 May), with all three planning to release a business version of the service at a later, unspecified, date.

RCS offers standardised enhanced messaging services including group chat, video and media sharing facilities, and has already been adopted by 50 operators around the world. Meanwhile, RCS Business Messaging opens the ecosystem for corporate applications to allow subscribers to directly engage and transact with companies.

Potential applications include buying transport tickets, retail purchases and making reservations at restaurants.

GSMA Intelligence estimates the RCS Business Messaging market will be worth $74 billion by 2021.