TymeBank could soon be owned by a Singaporean-based holding company, as South Africa’s upstart bank embarks on expansion into South East Asia.
Currently, the bank is controlled by Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital (ARC). But there’s also a “mirror structure” in Singapore, called Tyme Group, with exactly the same shareholders.
Following recent changes in exchange controls, TymeBank will now apply with the local authorities and regulators to consolidate the companies, allowing the Singaporean group to become the holding company of the local bank.
South Africa last year announced an overhaul of some of its exchange controls, including doing away with restrictions on so-called loop structures.
In the past, South African companies or individuals were not allowed to own in aggregate more than 40% of a foreign company which held assets in South Africa. But this restriction fell away in January, says ENS tax executive Carli Aldrich. At the same time, however, new income tax legislation was adopted to target the taxation of dividends and capital gains which may arise from such loop structures.
Singapore-based Coen Jonker, one of the founders of TymeBank, says the country offers the ideal home base given its tax advantages, as well as from a “stability perspective”.
Tyme wants to expand in South-East Asia and Jonker says companies in the region feel more “comfortable” doing business with a Singaporean-based group.
Tyme, which has sold digital solutions to banking groups in countries like New-Zealand and Indonesia, will launch a new bank in the Philippines in 2022 as a joint venture with one of that country’s largest conglomerates.
JG Summit – which has interests in airlines, telecom, banking, food, power, property and retail – took a 5% stake in TymeBank this week, along with a fund managed by UK-based Apis Partners, which will own 14.9% of Tyme.
Named GoTyme – a nod to the Gokongwei family, which owns JG Summit – the new Filipino bank will look a lot like Tyme in South Africa.
Similar to its agreement with Pick n Pay, banking kiosks will be available in stores – the retailers, drug stores and hardware shops owned by JG Summit – where clients will also be able to deposit and withdraw cash at tills. The bank will also offer the same “buy now, pay later” products on offer at Tyme. Tyme clients can currently pay half the price of a product at the till point, and the rest over two months.
Tyme plans to launch more banks, probably in South East Asia and later in the rest of Africa, says Jonker, who believes a “multi-country” approach is the future of banking, where economies of scale – including using the same technology across different markets – will be key as margins get thinner.
Originally published on Feb 23 2021 on Business Insider.