INTERVIEW: Telecom industry veteran Augie Fabela (pictured) believes mobile operators must overcome fears about social media in order to create truly digital societies.
The executive, who co-founded VimpelCom (now Veon), told Mobile World Live sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Viber are an obvious means for operators to add value by delivering services spanning entertainment, mobile payments, or account top-ups to subscribers.
Fabela now heads up Fastforward.ai, a Silicon Valley start-up which aims to “bring mobile operators into social media so they can serve their customers where they live”.
He said 85 per cent of mobile data traffic is generated by users accessing social media, offering a potentially “huge impact” for operators in terms of ARPU and loyalty by making access to digital services “easy and frictionless”.
Prepaid customers are likely to be the main beneficiaries: Fabela estimated there are 4 billion such users globally, with the greatest number in emerging markets. As a result, developing economies have an opportunity to leapfrog established territories in becoming digital societies because people are already more comfortable using mobile devices to handle transactions or access content.
“All of a sudden, if you can actually interact with those platforms, you become digital almost faster than you do…in the US or in Europe”, he noted.
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