Thursday 15 October 2020

Digital First with Virgin Mobile UAE

Back in 2017, the Virgin Mobile brand was officially launched by Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC) in the UAE, making history as the first fully digital mobile service in the country. Karim Benkirane, the then Managing Director of Virgin Mobile UAE, said the brand has ditched tradition by operating exclusively through a mobile app.

The Virgin Mobile UAE app signifies a paradigm shift in the mobile industry, digitally designed to simplify life for residents and citizens. The unique Virgin Mobile distribution model allows customers to simply download an app and have a SIM card delivered to them within an hour. The digital experience gives Virgin Mobile UAE customers new levels of flexibility and convenience.

Ever since the launch of Virgin Mobile in the UAE many people have questioned the relationship between du and Virgin Mobile, and whether the two brands will compete head-to-head or work together. Karim insists that Virgin Mobile as a brand will complement du because the two brands will work together to target different segments of the market in the UAE.

The important thing to remember about Virgin Mobile UAE, however, is that it’s not a telecom operator and it also isn’t an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator). Virgin Mobile in Saudi Arabia, which Karim previously led as CEO, is an MVNO, whereas Virgin Mobile UAE is simply a brand as part of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, the parent company of "du".

"It’s only EITC that has a license and they are the operator - we don’t have one," Karim confirmed to Telecom Review. "We are simply a brand of EITC alongside the du brand. We are the third mobile brand in the UAE market. The Virgin Mobile brand is known as an MVNO in other markets but that’s not the case here. We are controlled, managed and owned by EITC."

Back in June this year, Virgin Mobile UAE announced the appointment of Rob Beswick as the new managing director. Karim Benkirane, moved to head up a new project at du as the Executive Vice President of Business Transformation, tasked with driving the digital transformation of the UAE telco. 

Rob’s vision for Virgin Mobile UAE is to build on Virgin Mobile UAE’s position as the customer champion by creating a benchmark digital model for the mobile industry. By embracing next generation technology, such as 5G, he is committed to leading the brand forward ensuring that it offers the most innovative, simplest and best digital lifestyle experience for customers in the market.

In a keynote delivered yesterday at Telecoms World Middle East, Rob talked about "Go digital or go home". His talk was full of some very important details on their approach and how they are simplifying the approach to get SIM and connectivity. 

For MNOs and MVNOs to transform into a Digital Service Provider (DSP), a complete shift in mindset is required, not just selling through apps. The journey starts by simplifying the journey from customer acquisition all the way to selling them services and informing them of the best plan available for them.

One of the innovations revolved around a plan where users can pay upfront for 6 or 12 months and get more out of it rather than paying monthly. This was a surprise hit and is the second most popular plan with the network. 

There was plenty to talk and discuss, hopefully we will hear from Rob again about this Virgin Mobile UAE's digital journey.

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