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INTERVIEW - Viber to expand B2B services, customer base in CEE in 2017

INTERVIEW - Viber to expand B2B services, customer base in CEE in 2017 Atanas Raykov, Viber general manger for CEE Author: Viber, Licence: All Rights Reserved

SOFIA (Bulgarian), February 14 (SeeNews) - Mobile messaging company Viber plans to expand its business to business (B2B) services and grow its customer base in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) by up to 30% in 2017, a senior company official told SeeNews.

"We are planning a major expansion of our B2B capabilities, which shall attract a lot of attention from the brands and merchants to Viber. As a result, we plan to multiply several times the revenue that we make from the region and to increase our customer base by 25-30 percent," Atanas Raykov, general manager for CEE and global manager of telco partnerships, said in an e-mailed interview.

While Viber has been building out cool features like chat extensions, instant videos, messaging encryption, chat bots, another area where the company can become more active is e-commerce, Raykov pointed out.

"I would imagine that Viber might become a platform offering e-commerce among other services soon," he added.

Based on Viber's own research, people already use chat more often than voice calls, Raykov said. According to the company, this trend is not expected to change in the next five to ten years as the main communication platform will stay the same but a shift of users towards sending more video and less text content is possible.

The CEE region is one of the world's most diverse ones in terms of language, culture, heritage and social specifics, which makes it quite challenging to deliver truly local experience to the millions of customers in CEE when it comes to communication, Raykov explained.

"Because the communication with the closest ones, where Viber is undisputed leader in CEE, is the most personal and local part of the life of our users, we have strived to work only with local partners, to learn from them and to deliver services that our communities really appreciate," he said.

The company plans to continue expanding in the CEE region after focusing on the Bulgarian and Serbian markets last year.

"In 2017 Hungary and Greece will get more strategic focus," Raykov said.

The mobile messaging application is showing strong popularity in several countries of Eastern Europe, he added without elaborating.

"[Viber] is among the top apps as stated in a research conducted by Similar Web, which examined 187 countries around the world," he said.

Viber, with a user base of more than 800 million people worldwide, is part of Japan-based electronic commerce and Internet company Rakuten Group.