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The Big Bank Theory: South Africa’s Banks Of The Future

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Three bankers who are shaping how banking will look in the next five years — one runs the new kid on the block; the other a bank that has risen from the ashes; the third is spearheading a traditional bank’s transformation in 11 African countries. A glimpse into the future of banking.

They are the bankers of the future. They toss around words like simplicity, invisible banking, personalization, customer centricity, data analytics, digital banking, fintech, distribution, partnerships and seamless banking. This is the future they are reimagining and creating.

TymeBank’s CEO Sandile Shabalala. Picture: Supplied

New kid on the block

TymeBank, owned by Africa’s eighth richest billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital (ARC) Financial Services Holdings, launched its EveryDay transactional account in February that has a savings tool called GoalSave, a MoneyTransfer solution and the TymeCoach App.

Its entry into the market has turned banking on its head. The bank has no branches and its core banking system is hosted in the cloud, reducing overheads that allowed it to undercut the other players in the market. The bank’s transactional account has no monthly fees and charges among the lowest bank fees in the market.

Through a distribution partnership with retailers Pick n Pay [a South African supermarket chain] and Boxer Superstores, TymeBank has kiosks located in stores across South Africa.

TymeBank’s CEO Sandile Shabalala reveals this 10-year partnership has given it approximately 730 physical points of presence.

He says: “It gives us roughly about 10,000 cash till points where people can deposit and withdraw money, which is way ahead of what the current players have in terms of reach.”

The relationship, he reveals, allows TymeBank to cover about 80% of its target segment, ie, the underserved customer and provides access to data, which is a differentiator from a digital banking point of view.

It also points to where the future of banking is headed. The banker visualizes that banking will be an everyday kind of thing, “you will be doing banking wherever you are, in environments that you never thought you would do banking, like in a Pick n Pay store”.

The newcomer plans to replicate its partnership model with Pick n Pay and Boxer with other retailers.

The kiosks allow customers to open a Financial Intelligence Centre Act compliant bank account in under five minutes. No documentation required. Once signed-up, customers can automatically become members of Pick n Pay’s rewards program – Smart Shopper.

Shabalala believes these partnerships are the way of the future.

“We are very clear that there are things we want to do ourselves and there are things that we will never want to do, we will then partner with competent partners to provide those services. For instance, the Smart Shopper program.”

Shabalala believes the bank’s back-end technology is what has given it the edge in forming such partnerships.

“We’ve got technology… APIs [application program interfaces] which allows us to interface with any other platforms out there.”

The relationship with Pick n Pay has an added benefit; it allows TymeBank to access Smart Shopper data to understand its customers better.

 The more data the bank has access to, reveals Shabalala, it’s better able to offer propositions that speak to what its customers want. Since launching in February, TymeBank, “South Africa’s first digital bank”, has signed over 330,000 customers. Of that, 26% are between the ages of 36 and 45, and 14% aged 46 to 55.

 Shabalala believes this is an indication these people already have an existing bank account and see value in the bank’s offerings.

The bank’s utilization/activity rates are at about 37%. The fledging bank’s CEO enthuses that it was not expecting those figures at this stage.

“We thought we would reach those figures five years on, the fact that we are currently sitting at that level is good and a testament that people are finding value in the proposition,” says the banker.

By 2022, the bank wants to break even and have 2.3 million customers.

But the self-driven banker says the newcomer has big ambitions to grow its customer base beyond that figure. “We didn’t come into banking to be a second-tier player,” he says. “We have ambitions to take this business banking model outside of South Africa five years from now.”

Where does Shabalala see banking in five years?

He reckons traditional banks will still be there but become more digital.

“It definitely won’t be easy because of the investment needed and the costs, and risks associated with that, but you will see banks actually responding.”

In fact, in March, Nedbank opened its API to partners, and Capitec lowered its digital banking fees.

Shabalala imagines that you will see more partnerships. One that he foresees is a possible tie up with ARC’s insurance arm. Also the newcomer is currently doing a pilot with data-network Rain, around distributing SIM cards.


Starting from scratch

In 2016, when Sandile Shabalala was at the height of his career, as managing executive of business banking at Nedbank, he decided to walk away. It wasn’t to take a cushy job at another large traditional African financial services company but rather to join TymeDigital, to build a bank from scratch.

The main reason he joined, says the banker, “was because I really felt banking was evolving, there were more discussions around digital banks and what they would do to transform banking, but I also felt banks could play a bigger role in empowering communities and bringing more people into the economic sector, so the vision that was presented to me of Tyme, appealed to me from that perspective”.

When Shabalala was headhunted to work at Tyme, it was called TymeDigital and predominately owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) with South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital (ARC) Financial Services Holdings owning the balance. Its main focus was operating money transfer services in partnership with Africa’s telecommunications multinational, MTN, retailers Pick n Pay and Boxer Superstores.

In September 2017, CBA secured a banking licence from the South African Reserve Bank, less than a year later, it decided to dispose of its stake in TymeDigital to ARC Financial Services Holdings. With a new owner and Shabalala at the helm, it changed its name to TymeBank.
The vision of the bank, says the open-minded entrepreneur, who likes to look at things differently, is about empowering communities and financial inclusion.
Elaborating on the journey from his office with a stunning view of one of the most wooded cities in the world, Johannesburg, the 52-year old with an infectious laugh, says, “I think you will find very few bank executives who will say they have built a bank from scratch. That for me has been very enriching, to be part of that experience and with my team here to actually start the bank from scratch, roll out the bank and then move from building the bank to running the bank. It has been fantastic from that perspective, from a growth perspective, and also just from an exposure perspective.”

The jazz pianist, wearing a light blue shirt with jeans, reveals that by the end of the year the digital bank will enter the business banking space, starting with a sole proprietorship offering and then complex entities next year.

To avoid the trap of complexity, the banker says TymeBank has made a conscious decision to focus its energy on emerging entrepreneurs and early mid-sized small and medium enterprises.

KwaZulu-Natal-born Shabalala, who plays golf in his spare time with his wife, started his life in banking in 1984 and has been in financial services his entire working career. He has a master’s degree in business leadership from the University of South Africa.

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The Highest-Paid Actors 2019: Dwayne Johnson, Bradley Cooper And Chris Hemsworth

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A bankable leading man is still one of Hollywood’s surest bets, even if your name isn’t Leonardo DiCaprio. While the lucrative twenty-twenty deal ($20 million upfront and 20% of gross profit) doled out to the likes of Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise may be more or less gone, Hollywood still has its big-money brands, those actors who can promise an audience so big that they command not only an eight-figure salary to show up on set but also a decent chunk of a film’s nebulous “pool”—or the money left over after some but not all of the bills are paid. 

Dwayne Johnson, also known as the Rock, tops the Forbes list of the world’s ten highest-paid actors, collecting $89.4 million between June 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019.

READ MORE | Marvel Money: How Six Avengers Made $340 Million Last Year

“It has to be audience first. What does the audience want, and what is the best scenario that we can create that will send them home happy?” Johnson told Forbes in 2018.

It seems he makes the audience happy. Johnson has landed a pay formula as close to the famed twenty-twenty deal of yore as any star can get these days. He’ll collect an upfront salary of up to $23.5 million—his highest quote yet—for the forthcoming Jumanji: The Next Level.

He also commands up to 15% of the pool from high-grossing franchise movies, including Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which had a worldwide box office of $962.1 million. And he is paid $700,000 per episode for HBO’s Ballers and seven figures in royalties for his line of clothing, shoes and headphones with Under Armour.

READ MORE | ‘Black Panther’: All The Box Office Records It Broke (And Almost Broke) In Its $235M Debut

While Johnson’s deal is the biggest in the business right now, he’s not the only one with a lucrative deal. Robert Downey Jr. gets $20 million upfront and nearly 8% of the pool for his role as Iron Man, and that amounted to about $55 million for his work in Avengers: Endgame, which grossed $2.796 billion at the box office. 

That gross was so big that it secured spots on this year’s top-earner list for Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd, in addition to Downey; together, they earned $284 million, with most of that coming from the franchise. 

“Celebrities such as Downey and (Scarlett) Johansson currently have extreme leverage to demand enormous compensation packages from studios investing hundreds of millions of dollars in making tent-pole films, such as The Avengers series,” entertainment lawyer David Chidekel of Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae told Forbes. 

READ MORE | Worldwide Box Office, The Best It’s Ever Been

Cooper is the rare actor who can thank a bet on himself for his 2019 ranking. The actor earned only about 10% of his $57 million payday for voicing Rocket Raccoon in Avengers. 

Seventy percent came from A Star Is Born, the smaller musical drama that he directed, produced, cowrote and starred in with Lady Gaga. The movie was a passion project for Cooper, and he forfeited any upfront salary to go into the film and Gaga’s salary. It paid off—the movie, which had a production budget of only $36 million, grossed $435 million worldwide, leaving Cooper with an estimated $40 million. 

The full list is below. Earnings estimates are based on data from Nielsen, ComScore, Box Office Mojo and IMDB, as well as interviews with industry insiders. All figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers (generally 10%, 15% and 5%, respectively) are not deducted.

The World’s Highest-Paid Actors Of 2019

10. Will Smith

Earnings: $35 million

9. Paul Rudd

Earnings: $41 million

8. Chris Evans

Earnings: $43.5 million

6. Adam Sandler (tie)

Earnings: $57 million

6. Bradley Cooper (tie)

Earnings: $57 million

5. Jackie Chan

Earnings: $58 million

4. Akshay Kumar

Earnings: $65 million

3. Robert Downey Jr.

Earnings: $66 million

2. Chris Hemsworth

Earnings: $76.4 million

1. Dwayne Johnson

-Madeline Berg; Forbes

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Comedian Jim Gaffigan Rakes In $30 Million By Ditching Netflix And Betting On Himself

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Gripping a lukewarm Heineken, Jim Gaffigan hunches his six-foot-one frame over a peeling table in the green room of the An Grianán Theatre in Letterkenny, Ireland. Summer nights are never terribly hot in these parts, but this one is warm enough to need some air conditioning, which the theater almost never uses. It’s hardly a glamorous moment. But then again, glamour isn’t really his thing.

“There’s nothing sexy about Jim Gaffigan,” he says, sweat dotting his brow. “I’m not young. I don’t have a full head of hair. I’m out of shape. I don’t talk about having dinner with Kanye.”

Fortunately for him, he is funny. Just ask the more than 300,000 people in 15 countries who’ve paid an average of $56 to see his latest routine. For the 53-year-old father of five, it’s been a grueling schedule: more than 75 cities in the past year, including whistle-stops like Letterkenny, a northern community of 20,000 that was once lauded as the Republic’s “tidiest town.”

READ MORE | Trevor Noah Is Laughing All The Way To The Bank

They may not offer much sizzle, but places like this are the lifeblood of Gaffigan’s business. He has raked in $30 million this year, putting him at No. 3 on Forbes’ list of the highest-earning stand-up comedians. Half of that was earned by putting “butts in seats.”

The rest comes from spreading his punch lines far and wide. And in this business, if those jokes are funny enough—and your reach wide enough—you can fill a lot of seats with a lot of butts. With the right distribution deal, those jokes can deliver exponential returns. But that’s where it gets a bit tricky.

“In the entertainment industry, every house is made of ice and it’s melting,” Gaffigan says. “So you’d better be building a new house.”  

Gaffigan’s been building. In 2016, he agreed to partner with Netflix, the industry’s dominant force and home to original specials from all but one of the comedians on Forbes’ ranking. Last year he cut loose from the kingmaker and placed a bigger bet on himself, pairing up with Comedy Dynamics, an independent producer, to release his next special everywhere but Netflix. 

Gaffigan will star in the first original stand-up special on Amazon, which is going after the streaming giant with a push into comedy. Quality Time goes live today, and it can be shopped on the open streaming market when its exclusive run with Amazon Prime Video is up in two years. And that market is only expanding.

Gaffigan has learned a bit about home building in the entertainment industry. He cut his teeth on the club circuit in the early 1990s, when HBO was the primary destination for stand-up specials and Comedy Central was a fledgling cable network.

READ MORE | Executive Travel: Mpho Popps’ Ghana

In 2000, he landed what was then the holy grail of comedy success—a broadcast sitcom—which was the source of the fortunes the creators of Seinfeld and Roseanne minted once they had enough seasons on the air and could sell the series into syndication.

Gaffigan’s shot proved to be short-lived, but six years later he scored a second chance and headlined a Comedy Central special called Beyond the Pale. This time it paid dividends, landing him his first theater show a month later. The butts were now coming to the seats, and while his rise was live, in person, with microphone in hand, his breakout was digital.

At the time, YouTube was changing the rules of the game, providing comedians a global platform with unprecedented distribution. Then Twitter emerged, giving comedy bookers a real-time assessment of who was attracting audiences.

READ MORE | The World’s Highest-Paid Comedians Of 2018

Then came the debut of streaming on Netflix, which latched onto comedy as a cheap and effective way to lure subscribers, while some, notably the now disgraced Louis C.K., used streaming to control their own distribution, making their shows available for fans to purchase directly.

“It was a technological wave that crashed over the stand-up world,” says Wayne Federman, a comedian and professor of the history of stand-up at the University of Southern California. “And we’re still all trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Gaffigan’s first original Netflix special aired in 2017, long after the company had reshaped the industry. It was a promising place to be: Aziz Ansari and Ali Wong were propelled into superstar status through their Netflix specials, while household names like Dave Chappelle and Jerry Seinfeld reportedly cashed in with $60 million (Chappelle) and $100 million (Seinfeld) paydays in exchange for long-term, multi-program deals. Gaffigan’s first special, Cinco, sold for a more modest seven-figure sum.

Jim Gaffigan stand up comedy specials for Netflix and Amazon Original
COURTESY

It was more than just a check; it was access to a potential audience of nearly 94 million. Although Netflix’s subscriber base has grown since then, so has its stand-up library. The platform now shops nearly four times the number of original stand-up specials than when Cinco debuted.

That makes it harder to stand out in the scroll. Plus, the streamer often holds onto specials in perpetuity, including Cinco. The up-front money is nice, but there is no ability to earn on the back end. 

Gaffigan used his next special, 2018’s Noble Ape, which was directed and cowritten by his wife, Jeannie Gaffigan, to test the waters. Comedy Dynamics bought the rights and made it available everywhere Netflix wasn’t. It had a theatrical release and could be purchased and rented on multiple services, including  iTunes, YouTube and Walmart’s VUDU.

Later, there were short streaming windows on Comedy Central and Amazon Prime. According to Comedy Dynamics CEO Brian Volk-Weiss, it was even syndicated to planes and cruise ships. The up-front payment to Gaffigan from Comedy Dynamics was lower than at Netflix, but the wide distribution allowed him to earn on the back end, bringing in a total of $10 million, according to Forbes estimates.

READ MORE | Burna Boy’s The African Giant Debuts On The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

And new services are on the way from Apple, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal and Disney, any one of which could choose to pursue cheap-to-produce and popular stand-up specials. 

Because of this widening field, stand-up specials may have more life (and revenue) in them, and that could be good for comedians looking to gamble on their success with deals that offer back-end participation. “We have titles in our library that are making more in year 12 than they made in year one,” says Volk-Weiss, whose company also owns specials by Bob Saget, Iliza Shlesinger and Janeane Garofalo.

Still, leaving Netflix means walking away from a partner that has now established itself as a formidable entertainment company. Netflix has some 180 original hour-long stand-up specials and is singularly focused on exploiting content around the world. Gaffigan, though, is content to keep the bet on himself.

“In the entertainment industry, every house is made of ice and it’s melting. So you’d better be building a new house.”

In the stuffy backstage room in Letterkenny, Gaffigan reviews some of the new material he tried out on stage. A joke about Ireland’s nonsensical roads killed it. He stumbled with a bit about the English. The classics played well—“My dad never went to a parent-teacher conference; my dad didn’t know I went to school.”  

And he’s well aware that Amazon’s core mission is to sell stuff, even though it has won critical acclaim for shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Transparent. With plans to deliver three more specials over the next five years, he’s got time to see just how good a partner the retailer might be. Along the way, he may decide it’s time to find a new neighborhood.

“The reason I went to Amazon is to expand my audience,” he says. “I don’t know what they’re gonna do and I don’t fully understand their marketing might. I might be pleasantly surprised. I mean, it’s a huge corporation. They could probably make more selling socks.”

-Ariel Shapiro; Forbes

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Trevor Noah Is Laughing All The Way To The Bank

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South African Comedian Trevor Noah Is The Fourth Highest Paid Comedian In The World. Here’s how he did it.


With earnings of a staggering $28 million Trevor Noah has become the fourth highest paid comedian in the world.

According to Forbes the Daily Show host, “earned the bulk of his income this year through stand-up, making him eligible for our list”.

Forbes’ methodology is using all earnings estimated from June 1, 2018 to June 1, 2019.

Burna Boy’s The African Giant Debuts On The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

“Figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. Earnings estimates are based on data from Pollstar Pro as well as interviews with industry insiders,” they said.

He is signed to host the Daily Show until 2022.

On the show, Noah usually sits down with the biggest headline-grabbers in politics and entertainment.

Noah also covers the biggest news stories in politics, pop culture and more.

Recently he trended after devising a viral conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump is targeting first lady Melania Trump with his immigration policies.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah currently has over 5,3 million subscribers on YouTube alone and has had 1,9 billion views.

But apart from the show, the South African born comedian made more than 70 stops across the world and had his second Netflix special last fall.

His book Born A Crime, published in 2016, is still ranked as No.1 on the New York Times’ bestseller list for paperback nonfiction.

Africans across the globe celebrated Noah’s listing on social media with some expressing how inspired they are by him.

On the Forbes list, Noah follows after Jim Gaffigan earning $30 million, Jerry Seinfeld earning $41 million and Kevin Hart being the highest earner with $59 million.

On the top ten list the only woman on the list is Amy Schumer at the seventh spot with $21 million.

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