Kaan Terzioglu, CEO at Veon (pictured), argued AI has the potential to redefine telecoms services and generate real customer value, telling Mobile World Live (MWL) creating offerings based on the technology will be its mission for the next five- to ten-years.

Speaking to MWL shortly after the publication of its Q1 2024 results, Terzioglu opened up on Veon’s broader strategy as a digital operator, positioning AI as key to improving its portfolio of digital apps across its six markets.

He explained apps in financial services, healthcare and entertainment are “really allowing us to tap into adjacent markets and be more relevant to our customers”. Today, Veon operates in Ukraine, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the latter of which it is in the process of exiting.

“Interestingly, our digital applications have some 111 million [combined] monthly active users, and about 20 million of these are actually not our telecoms customers,” the executive said. “This demonstrates the apps we have in different countries and in different brands are world-class digital apps that can attract customers from all sorts of different segments and operators.”

For example, Veon owns Pakistan’s largest streaming platform Tamasha through its local subsidiary Jazz and Toffee in Bangladesh, which offers similar services. Terzioglu said these apps, including one it recently launched in Uzbekistan, will be the “right products for AI”.

Augmented intelligence
During the interview, Terzioglu also spoke of augmented intelligence, a term he prefers to describe AI. “I’m very excited about the next generation innovations we are going to present in our markets, and that will be mostly around augmented intelligence. I truly believe there is nothing artificial about AI, as it mimics who we are as a humanity.”

Part of this AI strategy includes a partnership Veon struck with the GSMA and Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, announced at this week’s M360 Eurasia event, The agreement is designed to develop models capable of local languages in the countries where it operates.

The CEO sees the deal as an opportunity for it to “act on our responsibility for languages such as Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Kazakh to have a future in the world of augmented intelligence and for it to be properly reflected in our solutions, so we can create real customer values by offering them how to become a better doctor, a better teacher and a better farmer [through multilingual AI]”.

This, Terzioglu believes, will define the next generation of digital operator services: “No more selling number of gigabytes, number of SMS, minutes, we want to offer people the opportunity to become better versions of themselves, that’s going to be our mission for the next five to ten years.”

In Q1, Veon booked a 6.6 per cent year-on-year revenue increase to $942 million. It did not break out net profit. “It’s a really strong result,” added Terzioglu.