TymeBank CEO Tauriq Keraan, Picture: SUPPLIED
TymeBank CEO Tauriq Keraan, Picture: SUPPLIED

“Dare to go where no South African has been before. Harpoon those sacred cows. In a frontier society, the rules are being made up as we go along,” is the advice SA’s doyens of marketing, Reg Lascaris and Mike Lipkin, offer. 

“Go and be Columbus. Venture into the unknown. You’ll come back with amazing discoveries. Because in the wild, fortune favours the bold and the brave.”

In their book Revelling in the Wild: Business Lessons out of Africa, Lascaris and Lipkin urge readers to be brave enough to try new things.

With this liberating advice still fresh in my mind, I had an interesting long-distance chat with the co-founder of Tyme Global (Tyme), Coen Jonker, who dialled into a Microsoft Teams call from Singapore.

Like Lascaris and Lipkin suggest, Tyme gives the impression it is ready to explore the unknown and go where others have not dared. 

TymeBank SA CEO Tauriq Keraan and Charmaine Padayachy, a deal executive at African Rainbow Capital (ARC), owner of Tyme and TymeBank SA, both joined the call. Even though they did not say so, it appears Tyme is preparing for aggressive global expansion. It is already intensifying its investment in SA. 

Big-pocket investors

The group has attracted big-pocket investors and new shareholders — China’s Tencent and British-based CDC.

Tencent is one of the world’s most prominent tech investors, and SA’s Naspers remains the biggest investor in the Hong Kong-listed tech firm. In the past five years, CDC invested almost £7bn (R147bn) and mobilised a further £2.5bn (R52bn) — and in doing so, have backed businesses that employ more than 900,000 people.

One of the biggest investments for CDC in Africa is Liquid Intelligent Technologies, owned by billionaire Strive Masiyiwa. Tyme’s new shareholder, CDC, helped Liquid to finance fibre infrastructure that affects more than 100-million people on the continent.

Jonker says that CDC and Tencent will assist Tyme to grow its foothold.

“Banking is a capital-intensive industry. We want to expand beyond SA and the Philippines into new markets. They strengthen our capital base because they are investors with deep pockets. They can continue to follow their rights as we build the business.”

Gross deposits

These investors have indicated that they are also ready to support Keeran, the boss of TymeBank SA, in his plans to develop new offerings for the local market.

TymeBank SA holds R2.8bn in deposit balances, all from consumers and sole proprietors, and has taken in R33bn in gross deposits from the public since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

Keeran said Tyme plans to develop new products such as bringing differentiated medical insurance. But he is in no rush to tackle secured finance services such as mortgages and vehicle finance.

The bank has since launched buy-now, pay-later advances at supermarkets.

Tencent and CDC’s investment will also come in handy for Tyme’s digital bank in the Philippines, known as GOTyme, which secured one of the six digital banking licences in August this year. 

Tyme’s strategy is to embed banking in daily life, making it an integral part of shopping and business experiences. This is particularly important in a country with an unbanked population of more than 70%.

GoTyme is on track to launch in the third quarter of 2022. It aims to leverage its partnership with the Gokongwei Group, which is like the Ruperts of the Philippines, making it easy for GOTyme to gain traction.

Jonker said the group will be looking beyond 2022 and 2023 to go to a third market beyond the Philippines — “probably one of the markets in Southeast Asia”.

TymeBank SA is a flagship digital banking platform for Tyme with its hybrid digital banking and physical service model.

The banking unit is growing aggressively in SA and could easily be floated on the JSE. But ARC’s Padayachy said that it is too early to think about the listing.

“[Listing TymeBank SA] is something we thought about many times,” she said. “For us it is really important [that] if you do a listing anywhere, maybe in SA or another jurisdiction, you have a very stable business. 

“At this stage, TymeBank SA is in high-growth mode. There is a lot that still needs to be done. We feel it is better for it to be out of the public eye in a listed environment.”

Let’s hope the partnership of Tyme and Tencent becomes like the glue that has created shareholder value for SA’s Naspers in the Hong Kong-listed tech investor. Furthermore, may the CDC investment in Tyme enable it to grow like Liquid.

The ARC and Tyme team are ambitious and seem to have attracted great partners. The company has a plethora of shareholders that have created value in several companies, and now it appears to be Tyme’s turn to globalise its platform. 

Hopefully, Tyme will also generate value such as Naspers did a few years ago when it kick-started its globalisation process. Tyme could learn from Naspers. As the adage goes, “if you can dream it you can do it”. 

• Lourie is a former correspondent for Thomson Reuters, Business Report, Fin24 and Finweek magazine. He is also the founder and editor of techfinancials.co.za

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