Navanit Narayan will lead a £70 million investment push to transform the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO)’s digital services

Lycamobile has today announced that current chief operating officer Navanit Narayan will be taking over as company CEO and he has major plans to change the strategic direction of the MVNO.

With around 16 million customers around Europe, the US and Australia, Lycamobile is one of the world’s largest MVNOs, traditionally offering cheap connectivity to expatriate communities. However, the lack of travel as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted the company’s bottom line, with Narayan arguing that the business model needs to change.

“We need to reinvent this business. It is a growing concern,” he said.

Prior to joining Lycamobile as chief operating officer in October last year, Narayan was chief strategy officer at India’s Vodafone Idea. Now, as Lycamobile’s CEO, Narayan will spearhead a £70 million strategic shift to expand the company’s digital service offerings, including radio, video content, travel booking and mobile commerce.

“At a time of global change and uncertainty, placing customers and digital capabilities at the centre of our business will undoubtedly support our growth ambitions,” he said.

Furthermore, Narayan said he hopes to expand the scope of the business on an international level, breaking into new regions such as Africa and Latin America.

But the process of transforming their business model into a so-called ‘digital hub’ will not be easy. Back in 2015, the company’s rival Lebara Mobile attempted to do something very similar to Narayan’s ambitions, at the time speaking about launching new digital services and targetting the international market. However, despite various projects including apps and other services, the MVNO ultimately did not succeed and was in fact sold in 2018.

But Narayan is unperturbed. Lycamobile is already larger and more diverse company than Lebara was, and the market has shifted drastically since the latter’s collapse. With the coronavirus pandemic driving everyone online, the demand for mobile services is higher than ever, but can Lycamobile capitalise on it?


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