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Telecom Review spoke with Khalifa AlShamsi, CEO, e& life, part of e& (formerly known as Etisalat Group) who shared his insights on the ambitious goals of e& life to become the go-to digital player in the financial, entertainment as well as retail sectors, as it continues to deliver superior experiences for its customers that fit in with their digital-throughout lifestyle.

e& money, the fintech arm of e& life and MoneyGram International, recently entered into a partnership in the digital payment business. What other potential areas in financial services is e& life focusing on, and how can it benefit e&’s over 160 million customer base?

The announcement that we made with MoneyGram International and e& money is one of the many collaborations and partnerships that will strengthen our service offerings made available through e& money, thereby enriching its product portfolio and embedding innovative fintech capabilities. Our vision of e& money is to revolutionize the customer experience through its innovative financial super app marketplace catering to all types of services in the financial services domain, starting from what is available today, which is merchant payments, local/international remittance to payments, lending, investments, insurance services

At GITEX Global 2022, we are also demonstrating the service types of the future that will be added to the existing e& money application. The lending and micro-finance types of services will evolve e& money to services in insurance, wealth management, and various investments that will cater to the various segments in our market. Some of these services will be built on the e& money platform, and some will be deployed through partnerships in the form of the acquisition of different available players in the region.

Please update us on the latest developments in e& life consumer digital offerings in both the retail and entertainment verticals.

We are excited about our development in the entertainment verticals. e& has within its portfolio evision, the media, and entertainment arm of the group, which has been in operation for the last 20 years in partnership with major Hollywood studios, independent studios, and regional content suppliers. We have evolved our B2B relations with our services like IPTV to reach a global market, including the MENA region and Pakistan where we have our telecom operations. As a result, through the evision-led consortium with ADQ, we acquired the majority stake in STARZPLAY, which has strengthened our service offerings, adding significant value for our customers who enjoy high-quality content, seamless streaming capabilities, and have immersive experiences using Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). accelerate their set growth by leveraging on assets and customers within e&. We're extremely excited to venture and double down on the entertainment space because we believe the region as a whole has major potential for growth compared to the MENA region’s penetration of such premier services at 10% compared to the more mature markets, which is in the 80 to 90% bracket. We'll increase focus on both global and regional content, especially sports content, as well as niche content that caters to certain segments of the users.

Dubai recently launched its Dubai Metaverse strategy. How will e& life leverage next-gen technologies to contribute to this strategic national agenda?

We are a big believer in the future of the metaverse. Following the e& announcement of our virtual world, e& universe at GITEX Global, and two other use cases, we are seeing the metaverse as a platform for launching a lot of future services that our customers have been early adopters of, be it in gaming or other domains that are emerging with time. We are demonstrating different types of services that are in alignment with the recent Dubai Metaverse strategy, which is centered on transforming industries in ways never imagined before. For example, in the tourism industry, we believe technology can provide a more immersive experience for the user than what they are experiencing on the traditional internet. We are also doing this in the sports and entertainment domains by leveraging our capabilities in that particular area and the assets that we have. We'll be working with a lot of strategic and mutually-beneficial partners to enable optimal engagement experiences with the fans that are relevant to this region or even in the global market. We are also looking into how we can use the metaverse for the benefit of our employees as well as our customer-facing centers. We are not only demonstrating such services as a proof of concept but launching them commercially on the metaverse, and will be the first telecom operator in the region to do so. It might not be profitable in the early days, but we believe that by putting these building blocks [together] today, we can unlock the future potential of the metaverse and the value-add it creates for the e&.

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