MTN’s Group CIO Nikos Angelopoulos spoke to STL Partners’ research director Andrew Collinson about consumer trust and a broader sense of purpose post-COVID-19

It has been made abundantly clear from numerous speakers at this year’s Total Telecom Congress that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digitalisation and has been a catalyst for business evolution throughout the industry. But for MTN’s Group CIO Nikos Angelopoulos, the opportunity for transformation here is not just reliant on incorporating the latest technology.

“Digital transformation is something that is here to stay,” he said. “It is something that will keep on happening and we will keep discovering things that we can do using digital technologies. However, over and above the technological opportunities, I think there is another opportunity in our space right now, and that is to enhance our bonds with our customers.” 

On the whole, the global crisis has reminded customers, as well as the telcos themselves, exactly how integral connectivity is in supporting the modern way of life, a fact that Angelopoulos has not taken for granted.

“Trust is a fragile thing,” he said. “You are only as good as your last success and, at the same time, as bad as your last failure.” 

“[As a result, during the coronavirus pandemic] we spent more time than ever before working to protect our assets and ensure continuity of service, to make sure our customers continue enjoying the digital services we have available.”

But trust between telco and customer runs far deeper than just building a resilient network.

“We are really trying to help our customers in their everyday life,” he explained. “During this time we have made so many offers; for example, enabling free access to educational content and allowing people to transfer money easily through our mobile money platform at reduced or no cost.”

This concept of supporting customers in every aspect of everyday life is in fact leading to a company-wide shift in philosophy.

“We are changing the way we see the future,” he said. “We are going to become, more and more, a platform company. So, our view is that we need to enable the world, allowing people to drive their life to where they want it to be. We believe that enabling small, medium, and even big businesses to come together on one platform to exchange intellectual property, build innovation, and create economic value is of paramount importance.” 

With a mobile marketplace, mobile money platform, and the recently launched pan-African API marketplace Chenonis, MTN is already well on the way to fulfilling this ambition, especially in the African market.  

As Andrew Collinson put it: “This is a re-envisaging purpose – to be an active participant in the economy and not just a communications provider.”


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