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OneConnect Financial Technology Co., Ltd. (OCFT) Q2 2020 Earnings Call Transcript | The Motley Fool



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OneConnect Financial Technology Co., Ltd. (NYSE:OCFT)
Q2 2020 Earnings Call
Aug 5, 2020, 9:00 p.m. ET


  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to OneConnect Second Quarter 2020 Earnings Conference Call.

At this point, I’d like to turn the call over to Ms. Patricia Cheng, OneConnect Head of Investor Relations. Please proceed.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Hello, everyone. Thank you for attending the second quarter results briefing. Some housekeeping notes before we begin. First, you can download the results presentation from our IR website. Second, our remarks today will include forward-looking statements, which involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially.

For further information, please refer to the earnings press release, which is also available on the IR website. Any forward-looking statements that we make on this call are based on assumptions as of today, and we undertake no obligation to update these statements except as required under applicable law.

During this call, we may present both IFRS and non-IFRS financial measures. A discussion of the limitations of non-IFRS measures and the reconciliation to IFRS is included in the earnings press release. Now let me introduce the management team on the call today: Chairman and CEO, Mr. Ye Wangchun; CEO of SME Banking, Michael Fei; and CFO, Jacky Lo.

I would like to turn the call over to Mr. Ye. His remarks will be in Chinese followed by translation in English. Ye, please.

Ye WangchunChairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer

(Foreign Speech) Thank you, Patricia. Hello, everyone. I’m very pleased to announce another strong set of operating results. Our revenue grew by 48.4% year-on-year in the second quarter, an acceleration from the first quarter. Gross profit gain was even stronger. Supported by gross margin pickup of 8.9 percentage points, gross profit went up by over 93% year-over-year.

(Foreign Speech) OneConnect strives to be a leading TaaS company for financial institutions globally, providing end-to-end solutions to meet their technology and business needs. As a young company, we have established a broad customer base, build a rich product suite and gained the recognition for our transaction-based revenue model. During the second quarter, our virtual bank in Hong Kong began a pilot launch.

I would like to highlight that all the IT systems of PAOB will develop in-house. I don’t know anyone else who would be ambitious enough to attempt this or who would have the technology know-how to make it happen. Looking further afield, in the first half of the year, we won the mandate from the Abu Dhabi financial regulator, exporting our Gamma O technology to support its supervision of financial institutions. It’s another baby step in our expansion, but this is no big deal a business that is not yet five years old.

(Foreign Speech) However, this is not the time to rest on our laurels. The impact from COVID-19 is still being felt across all industries. The macro environment is rapidly evolving as are the needs of financial institutions. Since the IPO, we have shown our ability to innovate and adapt to changing needs. There is still a lot more we need to do to further enhance our solutions and extent our all-round support to financial institutions. The potential from digital infrastructure is immense, and we believe there is no one better place than OneConnect to take advantage of it.

It’s great to speak to you again, and thank you for joining us today.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Thank you, Chairman, Ye. Next, our CFO, Jacky Lo, will go through the financial results in more detail. Please go ahead, Jacky.

Lo Wei Jye JackyChief Financial Officer

Thank you, Patricia. Good day, everyone. It’s my pleasure to be here today to give you an update on our business performance. We are proud of our achievements in the first half of the year. Despite interruptions from COVID-19, as Chairman Ye mentioned, revenue rose by over 48% year-on-year to RMB774 million in the second quarter. After the increase of 30% we achieved in the first quarter, this takes the revenue growth for the first-six months of the year to almost 40%. On top of that, other key metrics, such as gross margin, gross profit growth and operating leverage also improved quarter-on-quarter.

Let me guide you through the key drivers in more detail, beginning with the top line. By business line, operation support made another leap in the second quarter with revenue surging 171% to RMB288 million. Like in the first quarter, much of the increase came from AI customer service and roadside assistance for auto insurance, a testament to the demand from financial institutions for solutions that enable contactless interactions with customers and help them better manage cost and efficiency. However, business origination and risk management were both a bit soft in the second quarter.

Pro forma fell 19% year-on-year and the latter by 23%. These few segments are dominated by banking customers. With everyone still on high alert for COVID-19 and facing a challenging macro outlook, sales management initiatives have inevitably been affected, with loan volume that goes through our lending systems and pre-lending check both decreasing. There has been a significant change in our business mix.

Operations support account for 37% of total revenue in the quarter. It was only 20% a year ago and 28% in the quarter before this one. This make it the biggest revenue contributor now. This is origination for the first time lost the top spot, with revenue contribution falling to 19% in the second quarter from 35% a year ago. Risk management also fell to 9% from 18%. This shift reflects a change in priority by financial institutions as they seek to adapt to a different macro environment.

As a TaaS company’s servicing financial institutions, OneConnect has been working to ensure that our technology can also adapt to their changing needs. With our solutions spanning three verticals and penetrating front, middle and back-office functions, our revenue base has shown its resilience across economic cycles.

Next, let’s look at the customer base. By customer group, Ping An Group was the biggest contributor in the second quarter, posting revenue growth of 68%. As you may recall from our previous earning calls, we talk about the delay in recognition of some contracts due to strict internal compliance after we became a listed company. As both companies are listed and Ping An Group is regulated — it’s in a regulated industry, all related party transactions have to go through a more rigorous review and approval process.

Some recognition as a result of these contracts negotiated earlier came through during the second quarter, deeply among solutions in AI customer service and roadside assistance management. Over at Lufax, revenue went up by 44% to RMB95 million, driven by operation support. Again, AI customer service was the biggest contributor. Revenue from third-party customers went up by 29% to RMB287 million. It’s a remarkable result taking into account the macro situation we are in.

The impact of COVID-19 is still being felt across all industries in China and globally, and it’s no exception at OneConnect. Our operations in Southeast Asia, they fall behind because of the various degrees of lockdown. Both business development and implementation have suffered. But the quarter-on-quarter pickup in revenue in the second quarter clearly demonstrates the strength of our business.

Retail loan volume processed by our system reached RMB21 billion in the second quarter, up from RMB13 billion in the first quarter. There was also a rebound in SME loan volume to RMB8 billion from RMB6 billion. And the number of fast claims in the same period went up to over RMB1.4 million from RMB995,000.

Next, on the gross margin. Quarter-on-quarter gross margin also grew to 38.4%, representing an expansion of 3.6 percentage points. The main drivers were lower channel fees and labor costs. The former reflecting a drop in business origination and the latter reflecting our efforts in increasing product standardization. On a non-IFRS basis, that is stripping out all the non-cash impact.

Gross margin was 47.5%, also higher quarter-on-quarter, although to a lesser extent because of the change in business mix. Risk management products enjoyed higher margins, and revenue was soft in the quarter. We are confident in that as the overall transaction activities returned to normal coupled with our organization effort, gross margin trends for our various products will continue to improve.

Moving on to operating leverage. Another focus of ours in this journey, the results there are also encouraging. Operating loss as a percentage of revenue improved to 46.6% in the second quarter from 67.8% a year ago. This is the lowest level we have seen, reflecting the significant progress OneConnect has made in growing the business and strengthening operational efficiency.

Sales and marketing expenses as a percentage of revenue fell to 21.4% from 31.8% in the period under review. General and administrative expenses as a percentage of revenue were also lower at 25% as opposed to 29.4% in the same period last year. Optically, research and development expenses as a percentage of revenue appeared to have deteriorated, going up to 37.3% from 33.4%.

As I explained on the last earnings call, we have delayed some project launches as a result of interruptions from COVID-19 in the first quarter, so it makes more sense to look at the first and second quarters combined. And here, the ratio improved to 39% from 45.7% year-on-year. Needless to say, combining the first two quarters, all three main expense items i.e., R&D, sales and marketing and G&A expenses improved year-on-year.

We do enjoy tremendous leverage in our model. As transaction activities and usage continue to increase, we are confident about our growth outlook. Together with our cost discipline, OneConnect is steadily progressing toward our mid-term target of breakeven.

And finally, to run off the presentation, let me discuss the way forward. In terms of customers, we’ll step up cross-selling and strengthen strategic relationships with the objective of further boosting revenue streams. As for products, we aim to further improve and upgrade solutions and invest in core competency, therefore, diversifying and optimizing our business mix.

And finally, on our people. We will optimize organization structure and enhance operational efficiency. All of which will help us effectively achieve our vision. That is to be the trusted partner of financial institutions globally in their journey of digitalization.

Thank you. I’ll turn it back over to Patricia.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Thank you, Jacky. We’ll now open up to your questions. As the management are dialing in from different locations, after you ask a question, I’ll direct it the relevant team member. Operator, over to you.

Questions and Answers:


Thank you. (Operator Instructions) Your first question will come from Elsie Cheng with Goldman Sachs. Please proceed.

Elsie ChengGoldman Sachs — Analyst

(Foreign Speech) Thank you management for taking my question and congratulations on the strong quarter. My first question is referring back to our business revenue by nature. Looking back, our operational support is already taking the largest share as shared by Jacky just now. I just wanted to follow up on going forward, what this portion of the revenue continue to increase. And also, can management share a little bit more details in terms of the project that is related to this part of the revenue?

And the second question is related to the Ping An Group. The revenue has been picking up. Some of the delayed projects were booked into this quarter as well. Going forward, can we take it as a post-COVID-19 and normalized business environment and how should we look at growth? Thank you. Thank you so much.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Thank you, Elsie. We will direct the first question to Jacky. And then the second one on Ping An Group to Michael.

Lo Wei Jye JackyChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Thank you for the question, Elsie. On your question on operation support, I think if you look at the overall situation, I mean, the COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge to the global macro. And — but also it is a wake-up call, I think, to everybody. And so for the financial institutions, I think they have been rethinking their IT strategies. And also, we see a stronger demand in terms of like expediting their whole digital transformation. So all these financial institutions, they realize the importance of moving their products online. So that’s very critical to their business.

So in terms of operation support, I think all these financial institutions, they try to look for ways to actually reduce their cost, for example, like middle and back-office costs and improve efficiency at the same time. So that’s why it’s reflected in our operation results in the first half. So I think if you recall in the first quarter, our operations support revenue went up by about 148%. And in this quarter, it also year-over-year went up 171%. So this is actually a shift in customers’ demand. They are actually focusing more on just improving efficiency and reducing cost. And in terms of the products, the two key products are AI customer service and also for us is the roadside assistance management modules. So we continue to see demand in these two products.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Michael, can you talk about the Ping An Group contribution?

Fei YimingBoard Secretary, CEO of Enterprise Financial Service Division

Yeah. Sure. Okay. Well, first of all, thanks for your comments. I think you have pointed about correctly that the increase of Ping An Group revenue in the second quarter was partially because of the delayed project that was supposed to happen in the fourth quarter last year, (Indecipherable) year that all got finalized, OK? That is a good contribution to our increasing revenue for the Ping An Group.

Now looking forward, I think, as Jacky has mentioned, and I’m seeing kind of call for everyone, including Ping An Group. Generally, we have seen a trend across data and the financial institutions continue to focus, actually more and more focus on technology investments, OK? This is the same for the Ping An Group, which means that we will be seeing more opportunities — Ping An Group, our largest customer going forward, OK?

Secondly, as we had during our IPO — but the Ping An Group is one of our strategic partners, which means whenever we have a new product launch, we will always go to that group as the first client or our type of client, OK? This is also true for many of the new products that we — for example, some of our support products, Jacky has mentioned it before, was actually first piloted in Ping An Group. That explains the increase in both our core revenue as well as Ping An Group revenue.

So going forward, we will still see Ping An Group as one of our most strategic customer, and we’ll continue to focus on diversifying our brand offering for both Ping An Group as well as third-party customers.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

(0:07:21) Can we have the next question, please.


Your next question will come from Hans Chung with KeyBanc. Please proceed.

Hans ChungKeyBanc — Analyst

Hi. Good morning, management team. Thank you for taking my questions. So my first question is related to the third party — the revenue from third-party premium customer. And it seems like the growth rate deteriorated quite significantly this quarter. And although it’s still up 28%, but I just wonder, is that related to the decline in the business origination and risk management or it’s related to maybe its lower momentum adding a new customer. Just give me some color around the dynamic here.

And then my second question is, if we look at the industry data, we think like the — for the overall industry, the short term — the household consumption loan, which includes the mortgage. It seems that grew 20% in the second quarter. And so it seems like there is a disparity between our loan origination versus the industry. And just wonder can you help me understand what’s the dynamic here. Why there is sort of the disparity between our performance and versus the industry? Thank you.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Thank you, Hans. Jacky will take your first question about the third-party revenue, and then Michael will follow up on the industry dynamics.

Lo Wei Jye JackyChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Hans, thank you for your questions. In terms of the third-party revenue, if you look at this quarter, the revenue growth was 29%. It’s a very solid result, considering the situation macro that we are facing. But indeed, if you compare to Q1, it’s a little bit softer. So obviously, COVID impact is still being felt. And as I mentioned, like the loan volume process on our systems, it went down in the second quarter versus last year. And so it actually led to a drop in our business origination as well as risk management revenue, because these two go hand in hand.

So basically, in terms of risk management is the pre-lending credit check. So if the loan volume from business originations went down, it also caused the risk management revenue to go down. Yeah. But on top of that, I think we also mentioned Southeast Asia is still being locked down. So — and also some of the contracts will fall behind in terms of signing the contracts and in terms of implementation projects for our customers. And also, we have been talking about like optimizing our product offerings in the last two earnings calls. So this exercise actually continued in the second quarter. So we have been phasing out some low-value products. So — and then also some products that don’t really match with our long-term strategy.

So in the process, we actually gave out some or keep out some revenue. So all these contributed to the like — compared to Q1, that seems to be like a slow growth, yes. But these are all the reasons actually behind that. Yeah. But I think in the longer term, I think it’s still — if you look at the business, I think all these companies, they actually realized like how critical it is to have like business solutions online. And so — and if you look at OneConnect, we are at a position of strength to capture all these opportunities in the future.

And I’ll turn it over to Michael for the second question.

Fei YimingBoard Secretary, CEO of Enterprise Financial Service Division

Yeah. Okay. Just to add on what Jacky has mentioned that because we have — as we said, we have continued to optimize our product portfolio that was actually an impact on the kind of slightly softer growth for third-party customers. If you look at the general trend, I still see a very positive trend. First of all, I think from industrywide, as we have mentioned before, most of the financial institutions we met actually have continued focus, actually much more focus on technology investment. We see it as a very good sign.

Secondly, if we look at the transaction volumes, as we have shown on our results presentation, we actually see in the second quarter compared with the first quarter, quarter-on-quarter, both retail SME and interest, we have seen volume growth. Quite volume — quite solid volume growth actually. So generally, I think this is in line with the trend we have seen you have just mentioned. So I will still be confident about the second half that we’ll see continued third-party revenue growth.

Lo Wei Jye JackyChief Financial Officer

Hans, this is Jacky. I just want to add one more point. Yeah. So in terms of the revenue, I mean if you look at the COVID situation, it’s only putting like temporary strain on our business. But I mean we have a very strong pipeline. And as Michael mentioned, we expect the second half growth will be stronger than the first half.

Hans ChungKeyBanc — Analyst

Thank you.


Your next question will come from Yang Liu with Morgan Stanley. Please proceed.

Yang LiuMorgan Stanley — Analyst

Thanks for the opportunity to ask questions. I’ll ask two questions here. First one is implementation. So that this part of revenue is also growing pretty fast, which is quite different from other software companies, which is heavily impacted by COVID on some of their product delivery and the implementation. Could you please share about — or how can OneConnect or what kind of secret behind this kind of very strong implementation revenue because I think it needs certain level of on-site labor-intensive work, which should be impacted by the COVID pretty severe. The second question is, I think, Jacky just mentioned the second half growth will be either higher than first half. Do you refer to the third-party revenue or the transaction volume or the overall company revenue growth? Thank you.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Thank you, Liu Yang. Jacky will take the two questions.

Lo Wei Jye JackyChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Well, in terms of the implementation, I think if you look at the first quarter, we actually talked about this a long time. Some of our projects, it was actually delayed. And so we are catching up in the second quarter. So — and that’s reflected in the year-over-year growth in terms of implementation revenue. Also, at about 250 premium customers last year, most of them actually came in, in the second half. So that said, a very strong foundation for us heading into this year.

And so actually, and always implementation is our first level of engagement with our new customers. And because we more than doubled our premium customers last year, so they actually start signing up for like more solutions in the first half. Especially in Q2, we are catching up some of these projects. So yeah, I mean it’s just because of the timing, some of them shift to Q2.

In terms of second half, I think it’s both — well, I mean, the COVID situation is still very fluid. But if you look at the transaction volume, Q2 versus Q1, we already see some sequential recovery. And then with the situation continues to improve, we expect the second half in terms of transaction volume should be better than the first half. And also that would reflect in our revenue growth as well. So that’s why — yes, if you look at the first half, growth rate was about 40%. And so we are quite confident the second half will be higher than the growth rates we have seen in the first half.

Yang LiuMorgan Stanley — Analyst

Thank you.


Your next question will come from Emerson Chan with Bank of America. Please proceed.

Emerson ChanBank of America — Analyst

Hi. Thank you, management. I have three questions. My first question is regarding the government recently calling for reducing the legally from (Indecipherable) of lending rates for consumer lending. So I wonder would there be any impact to the company as well as to the fintech sector. My second question is about the demand to our product after the virus outbreak. How should we look at our growth in a post-COVID environment? Overall, are we seeing demand for our product going fast to the pre-COVID level where we see a sustainable demand that will stay above the pre-COVID level in the future?

And for my last question, which is regarding our risk management revenue. It has been slowed down quite a bit in first half. So how should we expect the growth into second half when the virus spread continues to ease? Will we see improved demand for our risk management product from the customers to protect their lending risk if the macro remains weak in the second half? Thank you.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Thank you, Emerson. Michael will take your first two questions, and then Jacky will take the third one. Michael, over to you.

Fei YimingBoard Secretary, CEO of Enterprise Financial Service Division

Yeah. So on the first question, for the new regulation, I think generally, we believe this is a positive sign for the company. Because if you look at — the major impact was actually our most of the so-called fintech company or the Internet financial company that is doing those unsecured consumer finance, OK? They used to charge very, very high interest rates, and these loans will now be regulated by the new regulation.

While on the banking side, the majority of the bank, for their lending — for their consumer finance to their customers, they are charging actually a much lower rate. Actually, it’s below the current — the limit setted by the regulator, yes. So in short, we see limited impact on the banking customers we serve.

And also because we are a TaaS company, our product service was mainly on the technology solutions or business solutions that we provide to our customers, in that we don’t take any credit risk for the services. So also, I think the regulation will have limited impact on our business. So that combined, we see a positive sign for the company going forward. Of course, this is our internal view. The actual result — the actual impact on the industry is still yet to be seen. We keep on observing the market.

Now the second question on the demand for product growth post-COVID-19 situation, I think this — we remain very positive on the post-COVID-19 situation because many of the financial institutions during this virus period, they have seen the importance of technology. Yeah. So we’re in the period that people cannot go out. So we’re in the period of people cannot have much face-to-face contact, so technology solution become more and more important. Yeah.

And also in this economic difficult times, cost control is also very, very important. So many of the financial institutions, they’re trying to improve their management of the overall business and also the operational efficiency, management efficiency contributed to the increase in technology solutions from these customers. So based on the recent quarter, all the meetings we had with our customers, with the potential customers, we have seen an increased demand of technology solutions. And back to you, Patricia.

Lo Wei Jye JackyChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Emerson, on your third question, on risk management. Yeah. If you look at the year-over-year, it was dropped by about 23%, but this has to do with the loan volume. So we already talked about for the retail loan process on our system, it was down about 7%. And on our SME loan, it was down about 22%, 23%. So because risk management goes hand in hand with our transaction volume so that had some impact on the risk management revenue.

Yeah. But like I said, the COVID-19 is only — it’s temporary. And so we already have seen some recovery in terms of volumes sequentially, Q1 versus Q2. And also, if you look at our risk management revenue, the two key products, the pre-lending check. So that’s impacted by the loan volume. But the second is the fast claim for insurance. So we have already seen a recovery in terms of the usage.

So yeah — so I mean, I guess the key for us is just continue to diversify our product mix, continue to improve our — like margin, improve the value of our product. So — and digital transformation is a trend. That’s not — yes, it has no impact. It is a trend moving forward, and it’s regardless of whether it’s COVID or not. And so I think if you look at OneConnect, we invest a lot in R&D, and we are in a position of strength to capture this opportunity going forward.


Your next question will come from Alex Yao with JPMorgan. Please proceed.

Alex YaoJPMorgan — Analyst

Hi. Good morning, management. Thank you for taking the questions. The first one is to follow-up with the second half outlook. You guys mentioned the business trends are improving and recovering as the underlying market and the macro come out of the COVID-19 impact. So how should we think about the second half revenue growth outlook? Particularly, how should we think about the mix between the operational support to revenue versus origination and the risk management’s revenue?

Secondly, how should we think about the Ping An-related revenue growth outlook versus third-party revenue growth outlook? And then the second question is regarding the operational support business. Should we think of the step-up in revenue contribution in the first half, that’s just a one-off by nature because of the COVID-19 or it will take one to two years for you? Do you guys expect the revenue mix will continue to shift toward business support — business support? Are you guys focusing increasingly more on the financial institutions’ IT spending migration rather than facilitate to more transaction-based business for these guys? Thank you. I’ll stop here.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Thank you, Alex. Jacky will take your first question. And then the second one goes to you, Michael.

Lo Wei Jye JackyChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Alex, thanks for the question. I guess in terms of the revenue mix trend in the second half, I think we talk about this because of COVID, it’s a wake-up call for everybody. And I guess especially for the financial institutions, we see stronger demand for like a middle and back office products. So for example, we talk about AI customer support, also the roadside assistance. These are the two products that have been driving our revenue. And so we expect this trend to continue. Like at least for operation support, this will be the key growth drivers for us in the second half.

And in terms of the mix, I think it’s very difficult to say that we have been like diversifying our products. The key is to address different customers’ needs in like an unpredictable situation. So — but overall, I think as the operation support will continue to be the key drivers and then for business origination and also risk management gradually to recover. So that gives us a very — a high level of confidence the second half revenue growth will be better than the first half.

And in terms of the growth from Ping An Group and also third party, I think for Ping An Group, I think Michael mentioned this at the beginning when he answered the first question from Elsie. If you look at Ping An Group, it’s actually — we always have — when we have new products, we tested out at Ping An Group. And that’s why if you see like, for example, the AI customer service, we actually support Ping An Group company before we actually export a to third party. So that’s going to be key drivers for our Ping An Group revenue in the second half.

But for the third parties, we already talked about some of the reasons for the softer growth in the second quarter. But like I said, COVID is only a temporary situation. And right now, Southeast Asia is being lock down in the region. But when the — all these countries, we start to be able to sign contracts, business — like a — be a service. The revenue will recover and also the transaction volume, we expect to pick off in the second half. All this will contribute to our third-party revenue growth as well. Yeah. But overall, I think we maintained a very confident, in terms of the second half, outlook. The growth rate should be higher than the first half. Yeah.

And the second question, maybe Michael can answer the IT spending.

Fei YimingBoard Secretary, CEO of Enterprise Financial Service Division

Yeah. To the second part of your question, I think overall, our strategy remain unchanged. Our major business is still to provide technology and business solutions to financial institutions. And this remains unchanged. The situation is a bit different in this quarter is because of the COVID-19 situation, because of this economic slowdown that financial institutions start to think about how to improve the efficiency, OK?

Probably, this is some time the banks looking more focused on improving the efficiency of their business, of their operations rather than growth, OK? So this actually, I think it explains the increase in demand for operations support revenues. But going forward, I think risk management and business growth will continue to be a major part of our solutions because this is still a major focus of many of the financial institutions in China.

So I think going forward, this will have the mix. I don’t think there’s a fundamental change in our business, in our portfolio, we will continue to provide the technology and business solution. It’s just that the focus of this solution could be on growth, risk management, operation, etc.

Now secondly, and on the transaction revenue, actually many of the operational support normally — this is also based on transactions because we are helping, for example, our AI call center services. This could be based on the per sheet basis or on per call basis, yeah. These are still a transaction-based type of revenue, yeah. So which we don’t see — we also don’t see a change in our revenue model, we still stick to our transaction-based revenue model.


You do have a follow-up question from Elsie Cheng with Goldman Sachs. Please proceed.

Elsie ChengGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Thank you, management for taking my follow-up question. So if I look at the transaction activities of retail loan and SME loan side together, the growth recovery has been robust. And if I look at the recovery in the transaction-based revenue, even if I take out the operational support growth, it is still recovering faster than the transactional activity we have in terms of loan served side.

So can I read it into as for the same amount of transaction we facilitate during this period of time, we’re also incrementally penetrating into the sort of services we provide to these transactions? Can we read it as that? And second question is really about when we break down the per customer spending, ARPU on number of customers, can management share a little bit more color on — so is this a period of time where you see bigger driver to be ARPU or customer adds? Thank you. Thanks.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Thank you, Elsie. We will hand your questions over to you, Jacky.

Lo Wei Jye JackyChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Elsie, maybe I’ll answer the question on ARPU first. So I mean we do not disclose ARPU for the quarter, but we do track that internally and because we look at it as an annual metric. But if you look at our top 10 customers, the ARPU actually increased like in the first half versus prior year. So and then — and we are seeing — as we mentioned, we — our priority for this year is to continue to cross-sell more and convert more customers from data to premium and then cross-sell more products. Yeah.

But for the full year, we have to actually look at the new customer — new premium customers as well as the existing ones because they kind of have different impact on the ARPU. So for the existing ones, usually, we cross-sell more high-value products, we see the ARPU going up, and also they subscribe to more products. But at the same time, when we convert like basic to premium, the new premium customers, they have lower ARPU.

So that will actually have negative impact on the ARPU. So that’s what we have seen in last year, the ARPU actually slightly decreased year-over-year because of the number of new customers we converted. But so far, if we look at just the top 10 customers, we see the ARPU significantly increase in the first half. Yeah. And on your second question, yeah. Michael can answer. Yeah.

Fei YimingBoard Secretary, CEO of Enterprise Financial Service Division

Yeah, I can help. I think, first of all, the increase of the transaction-based revenue is faster than — our loan volume growth is from two aspects. One is that our transaction-based revenue is not just our own, OK? As I said, some operation activities, some of the wealth management activities or other activities also contributes to our transaction-based revenue, OK? We are seeing that and the vast reliance on loan business. This is number one.

The second reason is that we are actually gradually phasing out some of the low-margin business. For example, some — previously, we had some long referral business that is including the business organization but with very, very low margin, but we continue to optimize our portfolio with the aim to improve our margin, so we phase out these low-margin business. That also explains why our loan transaction growth is actually slower than the transaction revenue growth.

Elsie ChengGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Got it. Thank you.


At this time, there are no further questions. And with that, I would now like to turn the call back over to Patricia Cheng for closing remarks.

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Yes. Thank you. Thank you for — thank you, everyone, for joining us today. Thank you for your interest in OneConnect. We’re going to wrap up here. If you have any follow-up questions, please do get in touch with us. We look forward to continuing our conversation. Stay safe, and have a good day. Thank you.

Lo Wei Jye JackyChief Financial Officer

Thank you.


(Operator Closing Remarks)

Duration: 47 minutes

Call participants:

Patricia ChengInvestor Relations

Ye WangchunChairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer

Lo Wei Jye JackyChief Financial Officer

Fei YimingBoard Secretary, CEO of Enterprise Financial Service Division

Elsie ChengGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Hans ChungKeyBanc — Analyst

Yang LiuMorgan Stanley — Analyst

Emerson ChanBank of America — Analyst

Alex YaoJPMorgan — Analyst

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Fashion Briefing: Fashion’s emerging founder-investors are mega-influencers – Glossy



Fashion Briefing: Fashion’s emerging founder-investors are mega-influencers – Glossy

Fashion’s OG Instagrammers are building empires and, at the same time, growing their influence beyond the industry.

After being schooled for years on the workings of the fashion industry, mega-influencers including Danielle Bernstein (2.7 million Instagram followers) and Rocky Barnes (2.5 million Instagram followers) are graduating to careers less reliant on brands. To take it to the next level, they’re leveraging their prowess and communities, driving deals with effective business partners, and evolving their focus, based on the industry’s direction and their own passions. The emerging results, for both Bernstein and Barnes, are personally-backed brands and investment portfolios set to expand based on early successes.

“The plan is to grow, in a big way,” said Bernstein. “I’m a serial entrepreneur, so I’ll always want to introduce new businesses and categories to my brand. And I’m angel investing and joining the board of advisors for so many companies. That’s the future of the creator economy: harnessing and creating community around your existing followers and then figuring out how to monetize that.”

In 2019, upon inking a licensing deal with New York-based clothing company Onia, Bernstein launched the Shop We Wore What e-commerce site, populated with her expanding We Wore What fashion collection. The collection has been at the center of much recent controversy, due to allegedly including copycat designs. According to Bernstein, she turns to vintage pieces, editorials and travel for inspiration. Bernstein’s also become an investor and advisor for hair supplement company Wellbel and CBD brand Highline Wellness. In May, she became active on Patreon, offering exclusive video content to paying members of her community.

In addition, Bernstein heads up We Gave What, a charitable arm of her company. In 2019, she launched tech company Moe Assist with a project management tool for influencers, though its social accounts have been inactive for two-plus months. When asked for comment, a spokesperson said Moe Assist is in a new fundraising stage and “should have news to share shortly.”

Barnes, meanwhile, partnered with Reunited Clothing to come out with her apparel company, The Bright Side, in December. And she recently became a first-time investor-advisor, for 6-month-old SMS shopping platform Qatch. She announced the partnership in an Instagram post on Monday.

“I feel like a grown-up,” she told me, before confirming that she’s interested in investing in more companies. “Diversifying my business has been a really big [focus] for me. I interact with so many different brands and companies on a daily basis. Using my market knowledge in ways that can help other people is fulfilling and exciting for me. And I especially love when I can be involved with a company from the beginning.”

Building on their content creator role in fashion is a natural progression, both said. And it plays into many industry shifts: On its way out is fashion’s DTC era, largely fueled by Harvard Business School and Wharton graduates using a plug-and-play, marketing-heavy business model to launch brands. More consumers are prioritizing quality, differentiated products, making industry experience and style expertise greater virtues among insiders. At the same time, consumers are increasingly taking shopping cues from relatable, platform-native celebrities, moving on from authoritative editors and more closed-off celebrities.

The school of collaborations
The collaborator-to-founder shift isn’t the newest thing. Other longtime influencers that have made the pivot include Arielle Charnas, with Something Navy; Aimee Song, with Song of Style; Rumi Neely, with Are You Am I; the list goes on. Most often, the names behind these brands don’t have formal design and business training — for her part, Bernstein said she “went to FIT for two years, but didn’t study design and production.” But, for years, they’ve worked hand-in-hand with companies to bring their visions to life. And along the way, they’ve come to know what resonates best with their vast communities, from marketing to merchandising to product.

“My most successful collaborations have led to the largest share of my business,” said Bernstein.

Bernstein’s partnership with Onia came out of her swimwear collaboration with its Onia brand, in May 2019. On the collab’s launch day, it drove $2 million in sales, and an included style was the brand’s best-selling swimsuit of the summer. Also in 2019, Bernstein collaborated with Joe’s Jeans on multiple denim collections. The launch day of the first, in March 2019, marked Joe Jeans’ best sales day to date, said Jennifer Hawkins, the brand’s svp of marketing and innovation on a Glossy Podcast in October.

Both served as learning opportunities for Bernstein, who said — as with all of her collaborations — she took full advantage: “It was never just [uploading] a post, and then I went away,” she said. “I always wanted to know how the performance was, in terms of sales, and asked questions: ‘Can you share the analytics?’ ‘What did you see on your end?’ ‘What worked and what didn’t work?’”

She added, “They provided a ton of data, in terms of what I could sell and what the market was missing.”

Likewise, she said, she always followed and shared with partner brands the Instagram Insights and Google Analytics numbers around her corresponding posts. Doing so gave all parties a 360-degree view of a collaboration’s success.

“I’ve learned what works for brands so they get the largest return on their investment,” she said.

For example, she’s learned to lean on her audience’s tastes, versus rely on her own, by allowing them to offer feedback throughout the design process through Instagram. That’s included the selection of fabrics and colors and the fit sessions with models. She only spotlights her favorite styles and what she wears in her own social posts, as a play for authenticity.

According to Bernstein, the collaborations with brands allowing her to play an advisor role — by guiding them on influencer partnerships, marketing and messaging — are always more successful. And they often turn into longer-term investment or advising partnerships.

Bernstein chose to work with Onia on the We Wore What collection based on its prioritization of quality and fit, and ability to keep to affordable retail prices. Currently, prices on the We Wore What site range from $20, for a scrunchie, to $228, for a vegan leather jumpsuit.

Barnes was also ready to go out on her own after finding the right partners. Her Reunited Clothing partnership came after working with the company to create her Express product collaboration, in early 2019. On its first-quarter 2019 earnings call, interim CEO Matthew C. Moullering said the company had seen “a strong start to [the] collection both in-stores and online and [believed] it [was] helping to introduce the brand to a new audience.”

“Having your own brand is terrifying,” Barnes said. “But I like that I’m in control and not so dependent on doing the day-to-day posts promoting other companies.”

But, she added, “One of the huge benefits of working with all these different brands on all these different projects is that we’re constantly getting introduced to new people and seeing who we like working with.”

Barnes’ internal team consists of her husband, who’s the “business brains” of the company, she said, and an assistant.

Like Bernstein, Barnes stressed the need for outside support in the production process: “I love such quirky, crazy things, but I also understand what is realistic for a buyer and a normal girl buying clothes,” she said. “The experience of taking ideas and making them work for a bigger group of people was my learning curve going into a business. It’s important to have a good, diverse team around you who can make your idea something that’s marketable.”

For its part, We Wore What has seen “200x growth in the last year,” as it’s expanded to new categories, Bernstein said. Its ready-to-wear, swimwear, resort wear, and activewear are now sold in “dozens and dozens of retailers around the world,” many of which offer style exclusives; they include Revolve, Bloomingdale’s and Intermix.

“Launching my own brand was putting the proof in the pudding for the power of influencers, when it comes to selling product,” she said.

As with her Joe’s and Onia collaborations, Bernstein sees a rush-to-buy with We Wore What product drops. “The first 10 minutes is when we see the biggest portion of our sales for the entire collection,” she said.

To build buzz, Shop We Wore What’s Instagram account (213,000 followers) features in its Stories the line sheets of the soon-to-launch styles, allowing customers to thoughtfully plan their buy. Doing so has led to lower return rates, Bernstein said. The company’s marketing mix also includes text messages and emails, VIP discounts and user-generated content.

Bernstein has a staff of four people, which include a chief operating officer and a brand coordinator. She said she prioritizes establishing partners with skills and expertise she doesn’t have, so she can learn from them along the way. Ideally, she’d have learned about tech packs, fittings and production logistics in school, but she’s training as she goes.

Moving forward, Bernstein said she plans to extend the size range of We What What styles, which are currently available in sizes XS-XXL, and launch collections with collaborators to sell exclusively on her brand’s DTC site. In addition, she aims to eventually open “experimental” physical retail, starting with pop-ups.

As for her investment-advisor portfolio, she’s currently in talks with companies centered on the concepts of “being able to sell your closet and even rent your closet.”

As for Barnes’ Bright Side, she said it will hit “a bunch of new retailers this year.”

Moving beyond fashion
Up next for Shop We Wore What is a new product category that will hit before the holiday season. Considering her passion for home furnishings and decor — based on her @homeworewhat Instagram account (7,500 followers) and recent press coverage of her new SoHo loft — it’s a safe bet that a home-related category is in the cards.

Likewise, Barnes hinted at a future Bright Side home collection, following her recent, two-year home remodel, which she’s getting set to debut on social media.

Lifestyle brands are the clear goal.

“I would love to be a combination of Rachel Zoe and Martha Stewart, just having my hands in everything and creating this really beautiful lifestyle where you can entertain and be fashionable,” Barnes said. “That’s kind of the dream.”

She added, “Fashion is where my heart has always been, but I’m growing as a person and there’s so much more in my life right now: my family, my home — and I’m getting older, so beauty [and skin care] makes sense now. Sharing all of that with everyone seems so natural; it would be weird if I only did fashion.”

As for future investments, though Quatch fits perfectly into Barnes’ world, with its fashion-tech focus, she said she’s open to investing in any company where she sees opportunity.

What’s more, she has no plans to retire from social media, though she has yet to tackle TikTok.

“People’s need for content has only increased, so I’m posting and creating content more than ever,” Barnes said. “But I’ve learned to become more of a hard-ass with brands. The companies that are willing to work with me and [facilitate] the most like authentic relationship possible are the ones I move forward with.” Reunited can attest.

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South African bowler Tabraiz Shamsi: Amateur magician; professional tweaker-trickster



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Harry Potter fans would know this as the Room of Requirement; muggle cricketers dub it backend operations. Tabraiz Shamsi is an amateur magician. He is also a professional worrier of why some googlies don’t turn as much as he’d want, in cricket.

For the Proteas chinaman bowler, the room of requirement from where he could pull out any game data, used to be the dependable ‘P Dawgg’, former South Africa analyst Prasanna Agoram combining his ken and nous and fast processing laptop. Prasanna enviably would be privy to the trial (and error) runs of Magician Shamsi’s classical Tourniquet coin-drops with the cricket ball. Which was the unglamorous, quirk-in-progress of his left-arm leg spin.

At the stroke of 1 a.m, oftener than not, Shamsi would come looking for what he called ‘shit balls’, in what Prasanna reckoned were otherwise impressive, less-than-run-a-ball bowling spells. This was that one specific delivery that went for a six to sully Shamsi’s 4-0-22-3 T20 match figures. It was the bugs, not the features, that the 29-year-old would cussedly fixate on.

“I’d never point out that he’s missing his length or the back foot was collapsing, at 12.30 in the night. Because Shamo, you see, would then take me to the nets at 1 a.m! He’s capable of calling the manager and telling him at that hour that I have to practice NOW. You had to be careful about what you told him at 1 a.m,” Prasanna laughs, underlining ungrudging admiration for the Proteas spinner’s dedication.

A series of self-recriminations in staccato would follow the ‘Bhai, can you please put on the shit-ball that went for a six.’ “He’d curse himself watching replays: ‘no good, not international class, garbage ball.’ If you try telling him it is ‘well-played’ from Jos Butler and not exactly a poor ball, he’d be hard on himself and say, ‘This is nonsense from Shamo’,” Prasanna recalls of his exacting standards.

For, the South African World No 1 spinner – who lends mystery to the Saffer bowling attack if not entirely upstaging their thunderbolt battery of pacers – knows that all sleights of hand, can come with uncontrollable twists of fate. Both in magic, and cricket.

A young boy of 15 at Paarl who tried to bowl quick like Wasim Akram and Chaminda Vaas, had wound up as a left arm leg spin all-sorts, after years of compulsive fine-tuning. And taken failures and omissions into his run-up’s five-strides.

Born in Johannesburg, Shamsi wanted to be a super quick in the land of bolting pacers. His progress though didn’t follow the regular route of being identified early for First teams at schools and playing age-groups. Also, he was told he wasn’t quick enough.

Speaking to the podcast ‘Pavilion conversations with C.S’ recently, Shamsi recalls his earliest break at age 15, bowling alone in the school nets, with the cricket coach’s office nearby. The coach would stop by and ask him what he was upto. “I said, ‘Sir, the U15 trials are coming up. I want to make the Paarl team wanna progress’. He told me – you are not gonna make it. But even there I thought he realised the type of character I am. That was just his way to push me even harder. He said ‘Don’t waste your time practicing coz you won’t get selected. And i was even more driven,” he told the host Mr. Chiwanza.

Shamsi would end up with most wickets that tournament, make the B team (“Still not A”), followed by U17 and U19s for the local side. “I didn’t get selected for SA U19s or invited to camps. My past was little different. In fact I got my opportunity at semi-pro cricket because one player got selected for U19s and went to the World Cup. A spot opened up because of him. I just knew that was my chance I had to make it work. And fortunately I performed. When he came back from the World Cup, he couldn’t get into the team,” Shamsi recalled.

It was around 2015-6 after he had zeroed in on Chinaman as his chosen bag of assorted tricks in franchise, provincial cricket, that he first sought out Prasanna, while closely following senior leggie and his ‘bruv’ Imran Tahir. Prasanna promised to compile a list of outstanding T20 spinners of that year for comparison, when Shamsi asked him: ‘Why just T20? I want to play all formats.’

Prasanna promised to revert after two days on Friday, and on Monday, he had a message from the hotel lobby at 10.30 am that Shamsi was waiting. “Normally, cricketers will turn up at 11.30, if the analyst time is 10.30. This guy made me abandon my breakfast and was ready with a list of questions. I’d prepared a presentation earlier on bowlers like Warne, Ajmal and Herath and how they bowled on unhelpful tracks, what lengths to bowl at what stage, and offered to email it to him. He tells me: “No. I’ll write it down in my own words. I don’t want shortcuts.”

Shamsi would sit and plan for every batsman – his notes diary in tow, even on matchdays when he wasn’t in Playing XI. And once he would spill the beans on why brainwaves struck him at 1 a.m – his preferred time to brainstorm with the analyst. “He once told me he eats my brain at that hour, so that he gets dreams of how to get a Kohli or Sharma out, so he can wake up next day he can execute the training plans.”

Once he came angsty about his googlies not spinning as much as Kuldeep Yadav or Brad Hogg. “When he said it’s not spinning, I told him Shamo’ you didn’t bowl any googly. That’s it. He hit the nets and bowled 1000 googlies non-stop and then said, he’s now hitting the groove.”

But nothing had prepared Prasanna for Shamsi’s mic-drop in the pink ball Test against Australia where the Chinaman was fancied as it’s tougher to spot the wrist in the Adelaidian twilight. Shamsi was instructed to block for 20 balls and support Faf as Proteas were hanging on at 210-9. Shamsi would announce he would score a 50 – against Pat Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc. Finally he was unbeaten on 18. “He came back and blustered ‘If someone had suported me, I’d have hit that 50’.”


This constant state of ‘upbeat’ – talking up his own abilities to score a 50 coming at No 11 against Cummins & Starc – might well be the sort of swag and sizzle that the staid South African teams need at ICC tournaments. For a large part of the last 30 years, the Proteas have entered tournaments with burdensome tags of ‘talented’ and ‘favourites’ and come up short. The tasteless mocking glee of choke-jokes has run its course, and being light-weights might well prove liberating.

For all their botched run chases in 50 overs, South Africa can stake claim to the historic highest run-rally to 438. And the innings-interval remark of Jacques Kallis, the most expensive bowler in Australia’s 434, who had quipped “Guys, I think we’ve done a good job. They’re 15 runs short.”

Shamsi likes his boisterous one-liners too. And his showboating and noisy over-the-top pantomime aggression.

After starring in a T20 win against Ireland earlier, he would tell South African journalist Telford Vice, “In my young age, I started as a seamer but was told I’m not quick enough to be a fast bowler so became a spinner. Grew up watching Andre Nel, Dayle Steyn, Allan Donald, that’s where aggression comes from.”

He knows it’s a double-edged sword and a bowler can be packed off, but it can disrupt batters too. “Whatever it takes to win. I’m in charge of making our presence felt on the ground and ensure the team never backs down from opponents,” he added.

Shamsi recently responded to Darren Sammy’s tweet on who would win the T20 World: “Come on skipper, you know the answer to this already…. South Africa of course.” Scroll down the thread, and some mocker mangles his grammar: “are you comedy me”. A good laugh was had by all. Pressure punctured.

“He’ll say things like ‘I’ll single-handedly win this,” Prasanna says, “Whether it happens or not, it gives confidence to people close to you – your team.”


Shamsi’s made it to the top of rankings, taking 49 wickets from 42 T20Is, at a strike-rate of 14.8 and averaging 6.6. There’s been a bucketful of wickets in franchise cricket and The Hundred. He’s 31 and has bidden his time to make it to the national team, and another 4 years into the Playing XI. The Wicket then, is an ocassion to celebrate, he reckons.

“I’m a human being and not a robot and want to make long-lasting happy memories that will live with me forever long after my career is done and that is the reason behind my celebrations,” he wrote in a social media post once. “My celebrations mean no disrespect to the opponents. They help me enjoy myself, switch on and off during the game to release some pressure, and put some smiles on people’s faces too.”

There’s the “Shoe” that got going in the West Indies, where within seconds of a wicket, he’d shrug his ankle open from the left shoe and pretend to speak on a landline receiver. Then there’s the bus driver-celebration with Carlos Braithwaite and something about a birdie’s chirp. A flying kiss to the wife and a mock punch to a fielder like a streets hip hopper. Though the untold back-stories raise anticipation of what he’ll whip up next.

Prasanna says there can be new hairdos before every game, sometimes “thrice a week”, and that magic tricks and celebrations are practiced as diligently as the googlies and top-spinners. “Not only will he say, ‘Tomorrow I’ll get Ben Stokes out.’ He’ll also ask you to watch the celebration.”

Amongst his most famous on-field triumph-trumpetings after snaring a batter is pulling a wand out of a hankey – a magician’s staple. But never in cricket, where magic’s glossary is slathered on the slow bowlers and their guiles.

T20 commentators love his name, lending it a South American football match caller’s vroom: “Shaaa-mzzziii”. But it’s the celebrations that can befuddle the most trained of raconteurs. When Shamsi got Wihan Lubbe in the Mzansi Super League, the commentator would build up to the expected celebration. “Is the shoe coming off? No. Look at that…it’s magic,” he would chortle. Cricket was momentarily put to the side, before he resumed confused: “That was a legspinner…… Beg your pardon… Offspinner… That did the trick..” Shamsi’s delivery had jagged away from the leftie and the post-celebration left the commentator’s mind in knots.

Appearing on the Dan Nicholl Show in SA, Shamsi had pulled one of those ‘I can guess the card pulled out of the deck after being shuffled’ tricks. It was ace of spades.

Magic had been his fallback option till age 16, he’d say. “So if cricket doesn’t work out… I ll practice magic for 10 years… But naa… It’s gonna work out.. I’ll bamboozle you all,” he would say, charming the audience.

At the start of the magic gig, Shamsi had handed a sealed envelope to the host. “Sealed with Proteas saliva” Nicholl had joked with whispered reverence. The distracting envelope had briefly become the centrepiece, and Shamsi would explain later:
“You satisfied you made me stop shuffling when u wanted me to? Funny thing is…You thought you were in charge of the trick… Telling me when to stop. Even though it’s your show, I’m running this party… I was controlling you and I actually made you stop at a specific point. …And to prove that I had written down something in this envelope before starting the trick..” It read Ace of Spades.

Shamsi’s assortment of Chinaman, is a bit like that: planned spontaneity. Allan Donald in a video while introducing him to RCB few seasons ago, said: “Left arm, tweaks it this way, tweaks it that way, then tweaks it the other way.” Offering attacking options in the middle overs, with his ability to turn ball both ways, and variations of top spinner, the side spinner and googly, makes him effective against both lefties and righties. The constant explosion of activity – before, right after when appealing (he once did a spot of bhangra jumps, then sat down altogether while pleading a decision) and when celebrating, is in fact the sealed envelope distraction.

Yet, bad days are not unfamiliar to Shamsi, and his role can be flexible like the magician’s wand, like in the West Indies, to keep things quiet, contain against the big power hitters. “There’s two ways to skin a cat… Not really fussed about not getting wickets in WI. That was a different role,” he told the media later.

Sometimes the magic is in not believing the flimflam and sleight. Like rankings. “I don’t lose sleep over being No 1. Obviously it’s a nice feeling to be on top. But I’ve said it before and I truly mean it. I don’t even think I’m the best bowler in our team. We have some great bowlers in the unit. Rankings don’t mean anything if a batsman gets hold of you. I don’t even know how those rankings work honestly.”

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Five great Twenty20 World Cup upsets



Five great Twenty20 World Cup upsets

Five great Twenty20 World Cup upsets | SuperSport – Africa’s source of sports video, fixtures, results and news

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