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Vodafone Qatar is one of the fastest-growing telecom operators in the region today. In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Vodafone Qatar Chief Operating Officer Diego Camberos shared what matters most to them as a company, the secret to their amazing commercial results and their entry into the FinTech space, among other valuable insights.

Having set the global benchmark for mobile network speeds, how will Vodafone Qatar maintain this reputation and keep up with the evolving connectivity demands of all types of customers?

We are proud to have set a new global benchmark for network speed and to be named the World’s Fastest Mobile Network. We are committed to continue investing [in] and evolving our network, products and services to cater to growing customer expectations.

Over the last five years, we have invested significantly in expanding our mobile and fixed network. We almost doubled the number of radio network sites deployed. Over 80% of our sites are now 5G enabled, and we were the first to commercially launch Unlimited 5G products in the market.

At the end of the day, what matters most to us is understanding customers’ expectations and providing a world-class customer experience.

We understand our customers’ needs very well: the need to be always connected; the appetite for data that keeps growing exponentially; the higher bandwidths required for 4K video streaming and AR; and the lower latency expectations for Gaming and Enterprise use cases.

Going forward, we will continue to take the same approach and keep our customers’ needs at the center of every decision we make, whether it’s network investments, marketing strategies or product development.

How does Vodafone Qatar bring state-of-the-art solutions to customers and continue to drive innovation in the market?

We always place the customer at the center of everything we do, and by leveraging cutting-edge technology and fostering strategic partnerships, we are able to build innovative service offerings that create genuine value for our customers.

An example of this is the introduction of Big Data as a service for enterprises — a first in the market. In a recent implementation for Mowasalat (Karwa), the official transportation company in Qatar, Vodafone provided a managed Data Science service to generate analytics and data to send targeted and customized messages to customers, based on passenger location, date, time and demographic data.

Vodafone has been at the forefront of Smart City implementation with its partnership with Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (KAHRAMAA) to implement smart utility meters across the country.

We have also introduced a number of IoT solutions, such as IoT Fleet Management and IoT Asset tracking, and even introduced the first Consumer IoT trackers in the market.

Furthermore, we are continuously exploring new technologies through proof of concepts in areas such as 5G, artificial intelligence and smart city use cases, to name a few.

You announced your 2022 results: 21.4% top-line growth and 53% growth in net profit. What’s the secret of your amazing commercial results?

In 2018, we put the general framework in place for our strategy “Digital 2023,” with the aim to evolve our business from being a traditional mobility-focused operator to a diversified digital-first Telco.

The strategy had five pillars: simplify the way we work, digitalize the customer experience, grow our core, diversify beyond the core and be responsible to our customers, shareholders and the environment. This strategy has been a guiding light in all our initiatives and decision-making.

The business results you see today are the natural outcome of consistently following our strategy and, of course, flawless execution.

We are one of the fastest-growing telecom operators in the region today and [are] consistently gaining customer and revenue share in the market year after year.

How did you prepare for the recently concluded FIFA World Cup event held in Qatar?

In preparation for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we were focused on a few things. The first was to ensure our network was “World-Class” and ready to handle the increased demand.

We understood that our products needed to be simple for visitors, so we introduced a simple offer with unlimited data, plenty of calls and even GCC roaming at affordable price points.

We made sure to have the right roaming partnerships with over 600 operators to be the roaming partner of choice for tourists.

We developed an end-to-end fully digital fan experience with eKYC, eSIM and eSignature so that customers could self-activate their sims without having to visit a store or [needing] any human touchpoint.

Thanks to the efforts of our team and our partners, we achieved exceptional results during the tournament, including 1.8 million roaming customers latching on to our roaming network, over 419,000 fans enjoying our FAN SIMs and packages, around 15 million calls being made and 1,188 TB of data being consumed at matches.

Vodafone has entered the FinTech space with the launch of iPay. What are your thoughts on the industry and the way forward?

Qatar Central Bank (QCB) issued the first license for digital payment services to iPay by Vodafone Qatar. This is indicative of our commitment to innovation and our ability to meet the changing needs of customers.

Since then, there have been a number of other FinTech players who have entered the market, along with traditional banks that are also innovating to stay competitive. However, what sets Vodafone's iPay apart is the fact that it offers a full-service solution, including a wallet, remittance, merchant payment, P2P and rewards. Additionally, iPay is operator-agnostic, which means that customers from any telecom operator can join, making it more inclusive and accessible. Customer registration is simple and can be done in less than 60 seconds with AI-based customer verification.

Overall, I believe that iPay has a promising future, and Vodafone's innovation and commitment to meeting customer needs will be a key driver of its success in the FinTech space.

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