To say he has earned respect through sheer doggedness and determination would be an understatement. Dr. Ope Banwo, a lawyer, author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and internet business consultant, is a man, who, in spite of repeated challenges of any terrain he ventures into, is persistent until he is successful. Ope is also a strong force in the entertainment industry. His intrepid exploits some years back with Stingomania Records, combining music label, recording and artistes management, became the standard by which the growth of Nigeria’s showbiz industry is measured.
A US registered legal practitioner, Ope Banwo is back on the familiar terrain with Nollycoin, a blockchain technology-powered idea aimed at revolutionizing the Nigerian movie industry. With Nollycoin partnering with Nollywood, he explains in this interview, an avenue is unlocked for stakeholders to make mega money via quality movie production, distribution and also ensures compact guide against fraud and piracy. Excerpts…
The Nollycoin idea is offering itself as an advanced technology that movie makers in Nigeria can benefit from. How much have your resource team done to sell to movie stakeholders the prosperity that may arise from this beautiful synergy?
We are already engaging top influencers in the movie industry to share this vision and seek their support. As a matter of fact, we are having an exclusive media parley on the 10th of February, 2018, where we will meet openly with most of them and answer questions on how this can benefit them and their industry. Some of the stakeholders including producers; movie executives, actors and actresses; even cinemas are already on our advisory team and we hope to get many more on board on my trip to Nigeria in February. As you know, its always a challenge to be a pioneer in the entertainment industry, and this blockchain and crypto technology is still new to a lot of them and many of them even see it as a bubble with no lasting influence. Fortunately, I am very comfortable being a pioneer and have been a pioneer in the entertainment industry before, so I know the work that must be done. I know we must do a lot of work to make them see beyond the misconceptions about the technology, and make them see how it can revolutionize the industry. We know, going in, that no matter how revolutionary this is, or how beneficial to the industry, some will get it now, some will get it later, and some will never get it. But we shall continue to work with the few visionaries who can glimpse what is inevitable to the movie industry.
With this partnership you are introducing, the volume of movie sales would be increased, access to grants for project financing, and other benefits; are you also going to work with movie makers to ensure that the qualities of movie production are improved on?
Yes. A big part of the Nollytainment initiative with Nollycoin, is to use it as a platform to improve the quality of African movies while also providing financial support for the talented producers who are already doing great things with little capital. To get quality products, you have to have access to quality finance and it is part of our game plan to provide access to adequate financing to create international standard movies that we can all be proud of on the global scene. To ensure that picking a good movie project does not rest with one man or myself, thereby leading to mistakes one had made in the past, I am putting together a 7-man Creative Advisory Team to evaluate any movie project we would be investing in to ensure transparency and verify that the movie meets all standards required for international success.
Explain what the shared interests from this scheme would be like.
There are different levels of interest that would be shared by people who will participate in the Nollytainment ecosystem powered by Nollycoin.
I would like to call the shared interest the Nollycoin value proposition for the movie community. Nollycoin also offers a lot of win-win opportunities to stakeholders in the entertainment industry excluding the pirates and copyright thieves. Some of the solutions and opportunities that Nollycoin is bringing into the entertainment ecosystem include one, Hardworking movie producers win. This means that contrary to what some companies in entertainment may think at first blush, they will definitely benefit from the NollyCoin Economy that will be heralded by Nollycoin. Under our ecosystem, the entire entertainment market scale can be enlarged to enhance long term exploitation of the copyrighted creative works. All stakeholders will enter their copyrighted content onto Nollycoin blockchain and harvest the profits worldwide ad infinitum. Two: Collaborators and Creative Artistes in The Movie Production Chain Win. This means that, with blockchain technology and the Nollycoin, collaborators can now be compensated accurately per contract without need for any third-party intervention. The terms of ongoing compensation for key collaborators like cinematographer, director, editor; writers, main actors etc are coded into the ‘smart contract’ governing the uploading of the specific movie into the blockchain powered marketplace and everyone is automatically compensated per terms of that contract without the need for any third party intervention. Three; Movie financiers and stakeholders in each completed movie win. By this, proportionate payments to movie financiers can also be worked into the smart contract that would form the basis of distribution of income from all movies on the Nollytainment network. No longer will financiers or stakeholders have to chase movie producers to get repayment of loans or capital investment in any movie project. Four; Open and transparent record-keeping ledgers for all stakeholders. This means that, Nollytainment platform, with its underlying blockchain technology, will provide all players in the movie making industry including movie makers, movie producers, cinematographers, and writers with digital recording of all transactions in copyrighted works that is accessible to all stakeholders on an instantaneous and permanent basis.
Does the government have a role to play in your own arrangement, given that it has set up a similar funding plan to assist movie production and distribution across Nigeria?
We are a private organization and like to keep our activities in the private business arena since most things that involve government tend to get politicized. We all can benefit more from government support of initiatives in the entertainment sector but more often than not, government initiatives have not really lived up to the hype. The issues of the Entertainment Fund and its accessibility is a strong case in point. So, while we hope govt will support by providing the right climate for the technology to take off, we are not relying on them for this. The private sector will drive this and make it more efficient
Apart from making money for yourself as a business person, and money for the contents owners, what are the plans being worked on to ensure that other elements like theft of intellectual property rights and piracy are dealt with? Also explain how your idea can generate jobs for persons in the entertainment industry.
The very concept of blockchain protects the registration rights of copyright holders and even allows different constituent collaborators in making a movie to preserve their own part of the copyright by recording all of that in the ‘Smart Contract’ that will be executed as the movie gets on our platform. That contract cannot be changed by anyone and compensation agreed to by the collaborators will be disbursed automatically without the intervention of a third party. When people really understand the power of blockchain to preserve, protect and compensate their artistic products, everyone will want their works released on a blockchain protected platform. Blockchain technology is tailor made for protection and compensation for copyrighted works. As for how these will generate jobs for participants in the movie industry; more international level movies will be sponsored and produced and thousands of people from actors to set hands will be employed in the process and more importantly the key players will not need to sue anyone for enforcement of their rights on the platform since blockchain handles everything without the intervention of weak third parties. I honestly see blockchain transforming the entertainment industry and generating millions of jobs for everyone as the concept gets clearer and implementation of its promise becomes real to people.
You are a busy man. How do you now find time to relax with and entertain your family?
I work hard and I also play hard. I am able to find time for my entire crowded schedule because I only do things I really enjoy doing now. At this point of my life, I don’t get involved in any projects unless I am really passionate about it. Money is the last consideration though I am also an unapologetic businessman. So, I wake up every day excited to go to work. In the midst of it all projects, I still find time for five or six vacations each year. In fact, I just came back from a one week Caribbean cruise with my wife, and the year is only one month old. We are also scheduled to be in Hawaii for five days in about two weeks, and then we visit Nigeria. Life is always good, and there is always time when you are doing what you love.
You are no doubt a tested hand in the entertainment business who is always out to make a success of his innovation. How is this massive project going to be funded?
Apart from the initial heavy capital investment by myself and a few partners, this massive project is being fully funded by the project itself. That is why we are having a massive ICO that will not only generate the funds to execute the ambitious project, but also provide participants and supporters of the initiative with huge compensation and high returns commensurate with their support and business risk far into the future.
These days, when people hear of any ‘coin’ related business idea, it creates fear and suspicion probably due to past experiences. What are the strategies being deployed to bring back the confidence people hitherto had in this kind of idea?
We recognize and understand that people are generally suspicious of cryptocurrency projects. Some of the fears are founded on past scammers while most of it is based on lack of knowledge how an ICO works. The main selling points of the Nollycoin initiative that we hope will help people overcome their initial reluctance to embrace the initiative includes the following: Our team includes top executives with decades of experience in managing major business projects and in bringing timely and innovative solutions to different industries including entertainment, business, stock trading, real estate etc. We have a solid team and network of partners with creative talents and movie executive experience. We also have a solid technical team in cryptocurrency. On the crypto technical side, we are avid cryptocurrency technocrats and enthusiasts who have been involved in all levels of the cryptocurrency world, including mining, token development, trading, and networking with like-minded individuals and communities. Also, o ur partnership with Top Influencers in Nollywood on Social Media with combined followership of over 50,000,000 followers. These top influencers have social media pages (Facebook; twitter; Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube Channels pages dedicated to Nollywood films.