zainKUWAIT: Zain Group, a leading mobile telecom innovator in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, announces the unprecedented award of five prizes at the prestigious 2016 Global Telecoms Business (GTB) Innovation Awards held in London last week.

Zain Group Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer (CSBDO), Emre Gurkan was on hand to accept several of the awards, having earlier being a key-note speaker at GTB Innovation Summit where he outlined Zain Group's innovation strategy to a distinguished audience of telecom executives from across the globe.

Zain's first prize of the night was for Customer Service Innovation and Offerings based on Disruptive Technological Platforms due to its cooperation with UBER, which it announced in September 2015 and is based on a partnership to offer Zain customers discounted and preferential services when using the UBER platform locally and abroad. The collaboration went on to be recognized by research house Ovum as its "most innovative service for November 2015 and it is not often that we find a strategic partnership that can bring so many key benefits for operators". Ovum identified that for Zain, UBER's continual growth across the region is a bonus having the potential to create incremental revenues, attract new customers, and increase customer loyalty, all factors which captivated the judging panel of GTB.

Thanking the judging panel on the numerous wins at this year's GTB Innovation Awards, Zain Group CEO, Scott Gegenheimer said, "The breadth and depth of the prizes we have won this year across several of our operations signifies that we are not just innovating for innovation's sake, but that the services and initiatives we are developing are really impacting people's lives positively. I would like to thank all Zain staff members for their dedication and focus, which allows us to be recognized in such a fashion."

Zain Jordan and Zain Iraq were both recognized at the GTB Innovation Awards 2016 for their efforts to expand access to financial services, aimed at providing a mobile wallet to millions of unbanked people across the two countries. Earlier this year, Zain re-launched its mobile banking services under the brand "Zain Cash", with a broader scope, richer portfolio, and a more integrated ecosystem featuring more secure and convenient transactions with a comprehensive network. The life-enhancing mobile service was launched in partnership with eServGlobal.

Zain's operation in Jordan received further accolades as it was recognized for the launch of its "Al-Basmah" prepaid line tailored specially for the deaf. The line was launched in collaboration with the Higher Council for Special Needs and the Public Security Directorate. The "Al-Basmah" line, a name meaning "smile" in Arabic, includes several features that assist deaf people, providing thema bundle of on-network video calls, voice calls, SMS and internet access on its 4G network.

Touch the mobile operation managed by Zain in Lebanon, was drawn out for special mention in two categories, the first being in recognition of its strategy to penetrate the digital world having developed and introduced the touch app on Apple watch. Created by FOO, a mobile solutions entity that Zain recently made a strategic stake in, the distinctive app allows customers to check their line balance, credit and validity, in addition to bundles (voice, SMS and/or data) consumption, on-the-go and in real-time. The application is one of only a few of its kind in the region, and it has received one of the highest rankings for self-care apps on Android. The application builds on touch's strong app positioning (over 850,000 downloads).

The second award for the Lebanon based operator saw Touch recognized for introducing an augmented reality feature to engage customers using a unique popular mobile app, again created by FOO Solutions that saw over 800,000 downloads during the holiday seasons. Having been customized to reflect the festive period, various themed animations were triggered by snapping the touch logo through the camera interface of the mobile app. Customers shared these animations along with selfies and photos creating creative augmented reality art. Customers also mentioned #touchgreetings in their posts and won valuable prizes

Emre Gurkan, Zain Group CSBDO concluded, "The complexity of the telecommunications sector is ever changing and in order to stay abreast of it and remain successful, it is necessary to review and adapt our innovation strategy on a regular basis, in order to move Zain Group successfully to a digital future."

Gurkan added, "We established the Zain Digital Frontier and Innovation (ZDFI) business unit to thrust Zain into the digital space by identifying new business areas, value-adding strategic partnerships, accretive acquisition opportunities and synergistic corporate venturing investments. Collectively, these activities look to create new revenue streams to maximize the group's high-speed 4G-LTE broadband networks, customer assets, network intelligence and payment and billing frameworks. ZDFI focuses on the areas of innovation; digital services; corporate venturing; and smart cities."