By Alexander Marrow and Supantha Mukherjee
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Telecoms operator VEON on Tuesday launched a digital identity authentication system that chief executive Kaan Terzioglu said could rival those used by U.S. tech giants to simplify mobile connections without sacrifice confidentiality.
The new tool allows users to log into systems such as retail or banking websites using their phone numbers and one-time password authentication, rather than using separate passwords or those attached to existing domains like Google or Facebook.
Veon wants to deploy the system to its 212 million customers in nine countries after a nine-month trial with more than 1.2 million monthly active users in its main market, Russia, he said.
Terzioglu said Reuters’ Veon system was a simpler alternative to those offered by Alphabet’s Google and Facebook.
“We had this unique opportunity to simplify all of these interactions by allowing people to simply use their phone numbers and tokenize identifying information, including some personal information that is not necessarily desirable to share with. everyone, ”Terzioglu said in an interview.
Foreign tech companies are facing increasing pressure from the Russian government over content shared on their platforms, as well as demands that they set up offices on Russian soil.
Veon also unveiled a new strategy focused on digital assets, double-digit local currency revenue growth and divestiture of its tower assets, which Terzioglu expects to complete over the next two years in part of debt reduction plans.
Faced with difficult revenue growth and stubbornly high debt accumulated from the latest network upgrade, telecom companies across Europe are looking to raise funds by selling their tower portfolios or creating future flows. of income by disposing of these assets.
The company, which owns more than 50,000 towers, signed an agreement last week to sell its tower assets in Russia for around $ 1 billion.
“I would love to see more of these deals… over the next few quarters and by 2022, 2023, we hope to complete the whole series,” Terzioglu said.
“It’s been about nine months (since) since we pressed the button on our physical asset monetization strategy,” he said.
The company is also in talks with independent tour operators in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Veon’s consolidated debt stood at $ 7.7 billion as of September 30, and tower sales can bring in several billion.
Shares of the company were up 3.4% at 1:45 p.m. GMT.
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow in Moscow and Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; editing by Jan Harvey)
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.