kieran james design

UI | UX | Research | Prototyping | Motion


Connecting 220 million global customers



Like all telcos, VEON was perceived as a commodity with low margins and high churn rates. Native were tasked to address this by developing customer-focused, new products and services that would persuade customers to stay and spend.


With a specific focus on emerging markets, we transformed Veon from a telco to an asset-light, technology-oriented digital company; delivering content, messaging, payments, and other internet services through its engagement platform.


To understand the problem, we first needed to understand the behaviours. A two-month program of ethnographic research was conducted in a diverse group of VEON markets in Russia, Kazakhstan and Pakistan. We identified opportunities to develop products and services with true meaning and value for individual local markets. This deep immersion and insight gathering was only made possible by living with real customers, shadowing their lives & businesses, and observing the role of technology within them.

Pain Points

  • Low uptake in smartphones (feature phones majority)
  • Largely pre-pay customer base
  • High illiteracy rate
  • Distrust in new/global companies


The limitless potential of smartphones is meaningless if you can’t afford to use them. We needed to give a reason for 200 million potential customers to upgrade from feature phones to smartphones.

What emerged from this research was a fundamental insight that, for many, the smartphone was an opportunity. Not an opportunity to take a selfie or play the latest game, but an opportunity to do better, to become more successful, to simply fulfil their potential.


Armed with rich user insights and new hypotheses, a conversational platform strategy was created which would allow customers to use integrated chat, entertainment, partner and digital payment services, all for free – even when they had no credit.

Early concept development & prototyping:

  • Vertical navigation for key functions.
  • Horizontal swipe switches within the function.
  • “Spotlight” expands to display active content.
  • Ambient background gradients signpost location.


Working closely with our research teams we evolved all aspects of their messaging and values, enhancing flows, translating their new brand into this digital space so that their message was communicated clearly to their audience.

I initially focused on the onboarding experience of the product, a key moment in the customer’s journey to understand what this step into new content focused, the communication tool is. After, I worked with the team to enhance key screens, co-creating the initial design system and assisting in the launch of the app through a microsite that would go live at MWC Barcelona.

Working closely with the UX and research team, our interaction principles were heavily driven by:

  • Learnings from infield research
  • Specific market requirements
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Usability testing

Design System

A highly collaborative design system, developed from a very early point and involving the product whole team, we built a working process and global design component system for:

  • UI, UX and motion designers (Native and VEON)
  • Product owners
  • iOS and Android developers

This established an organised system that ensured consistency and version control for fast-paced, iterative updates from multiple teams.


Launching in 10 markets in 2017, the VEON product will introduce a broad range of world-firsts in digital top-ups, integrated services, bespoke entertainment integration, and all importantly: no barriers to use.

8.3 million
Increased from 1.3 stars rating on App Store.

4 star App rating
Digital platform application rated on Google Play.

800% increase
in dividends Based on digital strategy cost optimisation.

Increase in NPS scores in every market
Over 3 years during the engagement.

4% increase
Sales in the third quarter rose to $2.46 billion due to strong growth in Russia and Pakistan.