Tag: growth

TymeBank enrolls 110-120k new customers each month

By Samuel Mungadze for ITWeb

African Rainbow Capital (ARC) injected R750-million in TymeBank in the last financial year ended June, a tough period for the relatively new digital bank, which saw it experience a drop in footfall to its kiosks under national lockdown.

Announcing its year-end results today, ARC says the bank onboarded 1.9 million customers, during the period under review, which was ahead of business plans.

The Patrice Motsepe-controlled ARC owns 70% of TymeBank equity.

The company says TymeBank is one entity in the ARC Investments portfolio that experienced some initial difficulty due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

“TymeBank experienced a drop in footfall to its kiosks located inside Pick n Pay stores in March and April under national lockdown levels five and four. With the easing of the lockdown regulations, the bank managed to increase its customer onboarding rate to pre-lockdown levels. As before, it now enrols about 110 000 to 120 000 new customers each month,” says ARC.

It adds that TymeBank is now signing up between 3 000 and 3 500 customers per day, with about half of the customers actively using their bank accounts.

“TymeBank is well-positioned within the SA banking sector to implement its unique low-cost banking fee model,” it says.

TymeBank is one of the new digital banks that launched to challenge the incumbents.

In July, the bank revealed it had introduced a fast mode of transaction, SendMoney, which allows users to send and receive money through their electronic gadgets, as a way of adding value for its clients.

TymeBank clients can now send cash to anyone with a valid South African cellphone number and the recipient will receive it immediately.

The service costs R4 per transaction when the recipient opts to cash the money out using the voucher, which it claims is one of the lowest rates in the industry, and is free when the recipient has a TymeBank account.

Commenting on the overall ARC performance during the period, Johan van der Merwe, co-chief executive officer of ARC, says: “Our performance in the period under review was first impacted by the poor trading environment as a result of a pedestrian economy.

“Subsequently, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenging operating environment was exacerbated. Interestingly, some of our investments experienced a significant acceleration in business activity, while others experienced a marked slowdown.

“In this instance, we have clearly benefited from a diversified pool of investments in our portfolio. This has helped us to perform satisfactorily on a relative basis to our peers, as well as other listed investment holding companies. On an absolute basis, we missed our key performance metric as a result of a poor trading environment. We are certainly not pleased with this performance.”

Notwithstanding the setback with TymeBank, ARC’s telecommunications business Rain benefitted from the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

The data-only network saw a sharp increase in its subscriber customer base as a result of people wanting access to cost-effective data, says ARC.

It says the Rain 4G rollout has also progressed well, with 5 500 active sites live as at the end of April.

The ARC Fund’s investment in Rain also increased from R2.5 billion at 30 June 2019 to R3.11 billion at 30 June 2020,which the company says was mainly as a result of a fair value write-up of R479 million.

“The business experienced a surge in subscriber numbers during the national lockdown period as people were required to work from home. Economic and social activities have increasingly moved online, including schooling, entertainment and connecting with family and friends,” says ARC.

“Going forward, we expect the difficult trading environment to persist over the short- to medium-term,” says Van der Merwe. “The impact of COVID-19 on our economy has been widely reported, with the economy now in a contracting phase. This does not bode well for many companies, including companies in which we have invested.

“As a result, we have already made plans with the management teams of key companies in our portfolio to see how we can align the business’s growth objectives with the prevailing economic environment. It cannot be business as usual over the medium-term.”

 

By Sibongile Khumalo for News24

The South African economy shrank by 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to new Gross Domestic Product numbers, released by Statistics SA on Tuesday.

This followed a contraction of 0.8% in the third quarter, which means that the economy was in recession for the last half of 2019. South Africa last entered a recession – when the GDP falls for two consecutive quarters – in the second quarter of 2018. This is South Africa’s third recession since 1994.

For the whole of 2019, the South African economy grew by only 0.2% (in real terms). In 2018, it saw growth of only 0.8%.

The fourth-quarter decline is larger than economists had predicted, as the economy battles the fallout of load shedding.

Seven out of 10 industries contracted in the fourth quarter, with agriculture (-7.6%) taking the biggest hit.

The manufacturing industry shrank 1.8% in the fourth quarter, while the transport, storage and communication industry saw a decline of 7.2%.

Stats SA reports that household spending increased by 1.4% in the final quarter of 2019, but spending on clothing and footwear was up by 8.5%.

The weak growth is likely to add more woes to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government, as the economy under his leadership continues to suffer, amid internal and external pressures.

The revival of personalised stationery

By Anne Quito for Quartzy

It can be argued that dread of receiving another unsolicited e-mail conjures the opposite feeling from the delight of getting a handwritten letter. Escaping our cluttered inboxes is one factor fuelling a renewed interest in paper goods and the range of analogue props used in handwritten correspondence. Analysts report that the global market for stationery is growing and expected to reach the $128-billion mark by 2025.

Apart from traditional stationers like Crane & Co and Smythson, a slew of e-commerce startups like Sugar Paper, Minted, Moglea, and StudioSarah are helping spread the love for paper beyond wedding planning and socialite circles. The choices for personal stationery are so plentiful these days that it can be intimidating. Letterpress or offset? Baskerville or Copperplate? To emboss or deboss, that is the question.

A Canadian startup called Maurèle wants to simplify the task of specifying tasteful personalized paper goods. Founded by husband and wife duo Nick D’Urbano and architect Cece de la Montagne, its e-commerce platform offers obsessively designed templates inspired by the beautiful letterheads of historical figures like Albert Einstein, Salvador Dali, and Frank Lloyd Wright (some of which are documented in the addictive site Letterheady).

De la Montagne, whose family is in the printing business, says they labored over Maurèle’s six minimalist templates to appeal to discerning customers, choosing just the right paper stocks, sourcing eco-friendly vegetable inks, and working with independent type foundries to select the fonts. “From a business standpoint, we feel that the design-conscious customer just wasn’t being spoken to,” adds D’Urbano. They believe that type nerds in particular will appreciate the proper kerning and letter spacing for each of the 13 font options on the site. Custom notecards start at $28 for eight and $34 for 16 sheets of letter paper.

Beyond stationery fanatics, De la Montagne adds that Maurèle’s quiet luxury aesthetic might appeal to acolytes of the thriving mindfulness movement seeking to disconnect from the chaos of technology. Writing by hand, she explains, is fundamentally seizing a moment to gather your thoughts without distraction. Maurèle reflects a similar sensibility to her line of minimalist work bags for creative types, produced under the label Atelier YUL.

Stationery is just the start, D’Urbano explains. A week into their launch, they’re already planning a line of pens, leather goods, and reprints of books in the public domain, leveraging their connection with type and graphic designers. Their ultimate dream is to erect physical stores where one can sit down to write or read in an unhurried manner, says De la Montagne, who worked at a boutique architecture firm in New York until last year. “What would a library-cafe look like in the 21st century?” she muses.

If it’s an alternative to co-working coffee shops populated by caffeinated zombies on their laptops, we’re all for it.

Image credit: Cerulean Press

The increasing migration of flexible office space and co-working locations to areas outside of major metropolitan cities globally is creating a ‘flex economy’ that could contribute more than R3.8 trillion to global local economies in the next decade, according to the first comprehensive socio-economic study of second-city and suburban workspaces. It also revealed that in South Africa, on average 265 new jobs are created in communities that contain a flexible workspace, with an extra R30.8 million per workspace going directly into the local economy.

This rise in local working is being largely driven by big companies adopting flexible working policies; moving away from relying on a single, central HQ and increasingly basing employees outside of the major metropolitan hubs in flex spaces. Most are doing so to improve employee wellbeing by allowing their people to work closer to home, and also to save money and boost productivity.

Jobs creation and the ‘sandwich economy’

Across the 19 countries analysed, the average individual workspace sustains 218 jobs. This includes temporary jobs created during the fitting-out stage of the office space, permanent jobs to run the office, including reception, maintenance, cleaning etc., plus the jobs associated with the occupancy of the workspace.

Economic impact

As well as direct job creation, flexible workspaces benefit the local area through an uplift in Gross Value Added (GVA), the measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area.

For the greater good

Aside from the direct financial impact, local office space has been found to benefit workers and local regions in other, societal ways.

The next 10 years

As well as assessing the impact of individual centres, Regus also looked at the estimated potential of each market to host a larger, national portfolio of local flexible workspaces.

Mark Dixon, CEO for Regus’ parent company IWG, said: “When people commute into major cities their wallets commute with them. Working locally keeps that spending power closer to home. What this study shows is that providing more opportunities for people to work closer to home can have a tremendous effect, not just on them, but on their local area too.”

Black Friday sales expected to soar in SA

Source: African News Network

South African business have begun preparing for what looks to be another bumper Black Friday trading day, with sales predicted to be up 30% from last year, online largest payment service provider PayGate said.

South Africa has like several other countries adopted “Black Friday”, the informal name for the day after Thanksgiving in the United States which marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. This year, it will fall on November 29.

Data from retail tracker Black Friday Global shows interest in Black Friday deals in South Africa has grown by 9,900 percent over the past five years, PayGate said in a statement on Tuesday.

“PayGate’s tracking of payments for Black Friday, meanwhile, shows the number of transactions doubling every year for the past three years, and payment clearing house BankservAfrica says it saw a 55 percent growth in transactions in 2018 compared to the previous year,” it said.

“PayGate expects 2019 Black Friday transactions to grow by 30 percent this year.”

It however said South Africa’s e-commerce growth was generally coming off a very low base, having really taken off only in the past three years or so.

The company said it had processes some 64 percent of Black Friday transactions last year, and expected this to rise to as much as 70 percent in 2019.

South African business have begun preparing for what looks to be another bumper Black Friday trading day, with sales predicted to be up 30 percent from last year, online largest payment service provider PayGate said on Tuesday.

By Charlotte Mathews for MiningMx 

The under-performance of Eskom’s fleet of coal-fired power stations is currently being concealed by falling demand. Even a 0.1% uptick in GDP growth would result in a resumption of load-shedding, Nelisiwe Magubane, chairperson of Matleng Energy Solutions and a member of the Eskom board, said on Wednesday.

Nelisiwe said Eskom was reviewing its system availability. The previous energy availability factor report of a few months ago predicted 75-80%. At this point availability was 69-70%.

Mike Rossouw, CEO of Independent Energy Thought Leader and a former chairman of the Energy Intensive Users Group, said if demand picked up, South Africa would experience loadshedding twice a day.

Magubane and Rossouw were speaking at the Afriforesight Future of Coals & Bulk Commodities Conference in Sandton.

Rossouw said the root of the problem facing Eskom was that its pricing policy was wrong. It was devised when Eskom was stable and smaller and not building new power stations. “Today it is the worst medicine for Eskom. The good news is that it can be changed overnight, without parliamentary processes, and things will start improving,” he said.

He said price and demand were inextricably linked. About 75% of Eskom’s income was derived from industry and mining, who were paying too much for power. A comparison of South Africa’s industrial and mining tariffs (rather than its average price) with the same sectors globally showed Eskom’s prices were far higher.

For some smelters, 60% of costs are electricity. At the moment 47 South African smelters were shut. Several South African mines were now smelting offshore because they could get better prices elsewhere.

As Eskom increased its tariff, demand for electricity was falling. As a result, Eskom did not have the revenue to pay for its current scale of operations, which were 500% bigger than they were in 2001 measured in number of plants, Rossouw said. The tariff allowed Eskom by the regulator should reward the utility for good behaviour and punish it for bad behaviour.

Rossouw said Eskom’s average price should not be more than 90c/kilowatt hour (kWh), and ideally it should be about 80c/kWh. Eskom has some power stations that can produce at 30-35c/kWh, but others were generating at a cost of 90c/kWh.

A price of 80c/kWh presupposed that Eskom could bring costs under control. “It makes no sense to raise prices because costs are not under control,” he said.

Rossouw said Eskom’s high costs resulted from three main factors. Firstly, it was paying excessive costs for coal as a result of too many small operators supplying bad coal intermittently and destroying road infrastructure at the same time. “(Former Eskom CEO Brian) Molefe’s ‘I don’t want the bakery I just want the bread mantra’ is nonsense,” Rossouw said, because coal and power stations were inextricable.

A second problem was that Eskom had too many assets. Breakdowns were now 20% of capacity from 3% in 2001 and fixing breakdowns required three times as many resources as planned work.

The third problem, Rossouw said, was staff and other costs. Eskom could address those costs, if it was allowed to do so. It should not be stopped from retrenching. “Every company in the world that is in trouble cuts back operations and staff,” he said.

By Mark Sweney for The Guardian

The internet is about to lose its mantle as the fastest-growing sector of the global advertising market for the first time in two decades, as brands seeking risk-free space to spend their ad budgets turn to traditional media such as cinema, billboards and poster sites.

Next year the global internet advertising market, which is dominated by Google and Facebook, will surrender its position as the fastest-growing ad medium for the first time since the early days of the dotcom boom and bust at the turn of the century.

Internet advertising is forecast to grow by 10% globally next year, the lowest level since 2001, according to research by the global media agency group Zenith. The shrinking growth rate means that cinema advertising, which is forecast to surge more than 12% next year, will become the fastest-growing ad medium.

Major companies have expressed their concerns over digital scandals – such as Cambridge Analytica, “fake news” and ads appearing next to inappropriate YouTube videos such as extremist material – putting pressure on internet platforms.

The movie industry is experiencing a golden age, with UK attendance last year hitting its highest level since 1970 and global box office records being smashed, and advertisers are looking to cash in.

Investment in technology, from the special effects used in blockbuster movies to the plush experience of cinemas sporting leather reclining seats, sofas and restaurant menus, has fuelled a renaissance despite the proliferation of streaming services such as Netflix.

“From Wonder Woman to the Avengers, Black Panther or The Favourite you have such as diverse range of films with a captive audience that advertisers know they can get a specific message to,” said Tim Richards, the founder and chief executive of the international cinema chain Vue.

“What we are also seeing is that companies are getting tired of bombarding the internet with messages when they can’t be sure who is seeing them. Audiences have a higher level of trust and confidence on what they see on the big screen than something that may have been thrown at them on the internet.”

While the growth rate of internet advertising was always eventually going to slow with scale – in 2020 it will account for half of the $650bn (£520bn) spent on advertising globally – there are signs of a wider shift in the market. This month, the British competition watchdog launched a probe into the £13bn UK digital ad market.

The outdoor advertising sector – which includes billboards, the sides of buses and railway stations – is also expected to grow at a healthy 5% globally in 2020, bucking a downturn in ad spending on other media including newspapers and TV.

“Outdoor advertising is now very much a digital experience, it’s pixels not paste any more, and that’s attractive to brands,” said Phil Hall, the incoming co-managing director of media company Ocean Outdoor.

“But you also can’t ignore the issue of brand safety. Given the well-publicised issues faced by some of the digital giants outdoor advertising has a great pitch to advertisers about being a trusted haven for brands.”

Zenith’s report says that while much of the growth in internet advertising comes from small, local businesses that spend all their budgets on platforms such as Google and Facebook, the majority of big brands still prefer to spend most of their advertising money on traditional media.

Is the adult colouring book craze dead?

By Adam Rowe for Forbes

In 2015, adult colouring books became the dark horse of the publishing industry, as a surprising surge in sales boosted major players’ revenues. In 2016, there was no end in sight. In 2017, the bottom fell out of the adult colouring book market and, this year, the trend is officially dead.

So it seems, at least. It’s possible that adults still enjoying colouring as much as ever, but independent publishers — whose sales numbers aren’t reported with the same rigour as those of traditional publishers — have cornered the market. Here’s a dive into the timeline of the adult colouring trend, as told through the cottage industry of articles covering the phenomenon.

A July 2015 New Yorker article described the early stage of the adult colouring renaissance, noting a connection to the popularity of other infantilising activities like adult summer camps and adult preschool. The trend was picking up, even if the numbers hadn’t come out yet: Dover decreed August 2, 2015, as the first National Colouring Book Day, and Bantam Books and George R.R. Martin teamed up on a Game of Thrones-themed colouring book. In December, Business Insider profiled a self-publishing colouring book creator who had earned $329,000 in Amazon royalties in 2015 alone, by selling her books via Createspace — noting that colouring books were at the time holding five out of the top 10 spots on Amazon’s hourly-updated bestsellers list.

The colouring book sales spike continued across 2016, to much media attention as numbers came to light: Nielsen Bookscan estimated 12 million colouring books sold in 2015, up from a paltry one million the year before. The hot takes were entertaining: America’s obsession was a cry for help, while studies showed colouring exercises reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Retailers doubled down on art supplies and colouring books. The Canadian company Newbourne Media LP released a music CD/colouring book combination product. Adult nonfiction books across the industry sold 12% better in the first half of 2016 than the same period in 2015, and Publishers Weekly credited colouring books.

In 2017 the cracks began to show. Barnes and Nobles’ third-quarter profits, released in March 2017, revealed sales were under expectations, though still strong, and the decline in colouring book (as well as Adele album) sales was responsible for “nearly one-third of the sales decline.” By August, the trend was declared dead.

But did interest in adult colouring books really wane, or was it diverted away from traditional publishers and towards the retailer to rule all retailers, Amazon? The evidence lies in a slide from a 2016 presentation by Author Earnings, one of the more authoritative analysts in the murky world of book data. A chart breaking down online book sales by genre shows that about 60% of crafts/hobbies/games books in 2016 were being sold by non-traditional publishers (indie self-publishers as well as Amazon imprints). That’s a huge percentage, second only to the formidable romance genre, and it indicates that in 2016, the year that Barnes and Noble’s third-quarter colouring book profits began levelling off, most online craft book sales went to Amazon and self-publishers.

In other words, book publishers might have lost their colouring book market share to the same retail giant who endangered their industry in the first place.

Author Earnings hasn’t offered comparable data in 2017 or 2018, and major industry databanks like Bookscan don’t track Amazon’s data, so it’s impossible to say for sure whether the colouring book craze is really over or whether faster-adapting colouring book self-publishers have used Amazon as a channel to scoop up the majority of what was once traditional publishers’ cash cow. But as publishers turn to the digital audiobook as the next popular format (sales are up 32.1% in Q1 2018!), they should be wary of Amazon’s growing interest in audiobooks.

MTN loses nearly 2-million subscribers

Source: eNCA

MTN lost almost two-million subscribers in South Africa in the six months to June and service revenue growth slowed by 3.3 percent in a stubbornly weak economy.

MTN, Africa’s telecoms giant, said it had 1.9 million less local subscribers compared to December, bringing the total subscribers to 29.2 million in the period under review, as price-sensitive consumers opted for cheaper data offerings.

It has 1.1 million fewer active data subscribers, although postpaid customers increased marginally by 0.1 percent to 5.6 million.

MTN chief executive Rob Shuter said that the 1GB promotion had contributed to the decline.

“We had our famous 1GB promotion, which we decided was not generating value and we pulled it out of the market. A lot of those SIMs have since become dormant and contributed to the drop in prepaid users,” he said.

Shuter said delayed payments under the network roaming agreement with Cell C resulted in a R393-million impairment.

“We are evaluating a sustainable solution to the agreement with Cell C,” Shuter said.

The domestic prepaid service revenue declined 5.5 percent on the introduction of out of data bundle rates and regulations by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Commenting on the recent release of the policy on high-demand spectrum and policy direction on the licensing of a Wireless Open Access Network, Shuter said it was a move in the right direction, and lacked detail.

“We are still not clear how much spectrum will be available to mobile operators,” said Shuter.

Overall the MTN group had strong subscriber growth of 7.7 million in the first six months of the year to reach a total of 240 million subscribers.

What unemployment looks like in South Africa

South Africa’s unemployment rate is getting worse. The latest stats from Stats SA, as well as the opinions of leading economic and labour experts, paint a very dire picture:

  • The unemployment rate increased by 1,4 percentage points from 27,6% in the first quarter of 2019 to 29,0% in the second quarter of 2019
  • The number of people unemployed grew by 455 000
  • The number of people employed grew by just 21 000
  • Government’s failed Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) was supposed to create 350 000 manufacturing jobs
  • 320 000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2008
  • Gang violence on the Cape Flats is a direct result of the loss of jobs in the textile industry in the areas
  • 6,7-million people are currently unemployed in South Africa – the size of the entire country of Bulgaria

Follow us on social media: 

               

View our magazine archives: 

                       


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Top