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Navigating the Hurdles of New SMS Regulations

Dear WU community,

We are aware that some of you did not receive our last SMS, and we apologize for the oversight. Sending SMS has become increasingly challenging this summer as regulations in many countries are undergoing changes. The countries where we have WU subscribers that currently experiencing regulatory changes are Great Britain, the USA, the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore. However, this doesn't mean that all these countries are blocking our SMS. Only GB has reached the stage where they should be blocking all SMS, but so far, only British Telecom has implemented this. In the US, it seems that Verizon has already started blocking SMS, even though the official deadline is on August 31st. UAE also seems to now went to full block. We have been collaborating with Twilio on this issue since May. One challenge we face is that many companies are rushing to navigate these new laws (because there is an official way to bypass them), but the approval process, initially estimated to take three weeks, now spans months.

What we will do

We acted swiftly from the outset, so I anticipate that we'll meet the August 31st deadline in the US. We also hope our issue with GB and UAE will be resolved soon. The deadlines for Singapore are still ahead of us, so we should be able to address these in time. Over the next few weeks, some of you may receive test SMS messages, and we might reach out to a few of you individually.

Temporary Solution: Email Alert Along with SMS

In the meantime, from now we will consistently send email alerts through our Web platform (the same that send you alert that we have a new blog post). Please open these emails, even if you've received the corresponding SMS and are already aware of the alert. One challenge with email is that platforms like WIX, Shopify, and Mailchimp monitor whether you open emails or not. If they notice you consistently ignoring the emails, they'll automatically deactivate your email notificationsThey implement this measure to safeguard their servers from being flagged by spam filters. Sending out large volumes of unread emails could trigger anti-spam systems, potentially filtering out emails for all users. This is the state of the internet in 2023, but it's also a key reason why our inboxes have significantly less spam now compared to the overwhelming amounts we experienced between 2001 and 2007.

Although I am confident that we can adhere to the new SMS rules, there is a growing intrinsic risk associated with sending SMS. It's not just about regulation; telecom companies have also stepped up their game in SMS spam filtering in recent years. For instance, in April, my own carrier decided to filter one of WealthUmbrella's numbers since they viewed the text alert as having characters similar to spam. It took hundreds of alerts (because I receive many more than what I've shared with you) for this to happen. However, this could also happen to any of you, and this issue is beyond our control.

I've been thinking about this problem a lot recently, and I believe the solution is redundancy. Despite the challenges of sending SMS, I want to continue using this channel for alerts since I think it's probably the medium we are most responsive to (I receive around 300 emails per day, so email alerts can easily get buried). In addition to SMS, I am considering using either Telegram or Discord as a backup communication channel. I know that many of you are probably members of other communities and might have previous experience with one of these two. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments section, or you can contact me directly by email. We want to learn from you !

We apologize for this and be sure we are actively working on that at this moment.

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