Anime Festival Asia (AFA) returned to Singapore last weekend from 25 to 27 November at Suntec's Convention and Exhibition Centre, with the usual fare for anime lovers such as figurines, cosplay, and concerts.
And joining the show for the first time was Singapore-founded content membership platform Gank, which brought popular content creators such as Singapore's Rurusama to meet and interact with fans at AFA.
Established in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, Gank is a relatively new platform where creators can accept donations, manage memberships and sell merchandise to their fanbase.
They can also post SFW-only (safe for work) content for subscribers. Interestingly, Gank does not charge any commission fees for using its platform, instead relying on a premium subscription model more commonly associated with platforms like LinkedIn or Tinder.
Starting out in gaming, but branching into other areas
“Initially, we wanted to go into gaming services, hence the name Gank, which emphasises playing with friends and coaching services,” said Darrell Sin, Gank’s Regional Partnership Director.
However, plans to target non-gaming services led Sin and his team to look at a gated monetisation system similar to Patreon or Ko-fi. These are platforms where content creators can create membership tiers for their fanbase in exchange for exclusive content or incentives that may not be available otherwise.
But as a majority of gated monetisation platforms based in the US use banking solutions such as Paypal, content creators incur high transactional fees on top of the commission given back to the platforms.
Gank looks to remedy this issue, said Sin, especially for its content creators in Southeast Asia. As such, it uses local banks in accordance with the creator’s home country to roll out the payments that creators receive.
Sin also explained that Gank mainly targets cosplayers and streamers in the anime industry as they are more familiar with marketing themselves online. These users understood the importance of selling merchandise and photo sets to engage with their fans.
As of now, Gank claims to have over 8,500 content creators on the platform.
The long run
Be it an established or an up-and-coming creator looking to make it big, Gank aims to expose creators to new members of the niche and specific audiences it targets through an easily-accessible platform.
These transactions are also done manually, with a small accounts team helping these creators to withdraw their earnings. Sin claims this amounts to a combined S$20,000 to S$30,000 each month for all the creators on the platform.
“Bread and water are free for everyone, but if you want a better meal like steak and Coke, you will have to pay,” said Sin.
Gank earns its revenue through a monthly premium service, Boost and Boost+. These are recurring monthly plans which cost roughly $5 and $11 respectively.
Content creators who purchase these plans get benefits such as additional storage for their digital goods, being ability to set up voice and video calls with their fans and priority customer support.
At the moment, Boost and Boost+ are the main ways that Gank is currently sustaining itself. However, it will be looking to monetise its platform in other ways in the future, while also giving as much money as it can back to its content creators, said Sin.
Once Gank hits mass volume or a critical point in the number of users on its platform, it plans to look into educating users on Boost’s importance and introducing more benefits such as quick withdrawals, similar to the Twitch Partner Programme.
Coming off a handful of other offline conventions in the region such as ACG and Conquest, AFA was Gank’s first foray into the physical Singapore market.
The company hoped that having a physical presence will help promote its branding, by giving fans the opportunity to interact with the staff and content creators who were present.
Gank is also looking to expand further into Asia in countries such as Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Myanmar and India., Sin shared. This is on top of its current user base in Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
This story is the work of student contributors working with Yahoo Southeast Asia.