Aning Samuel, who is better known as Samy Pop, is always amused when Japanese people find out he is from Ghana. “They immediately say ‘Ghana chocolate,’” he says.
Samy, who runs his own talent management company, is a familiar face about town on posters for Seven Bank’s international money transfer service. Besides that, he appears on Kanagawa TV’s live program, “Arigato,” every Friday from 12 noon – 2 p.m. “I have a 10-minute corner, in which I introduce interesting foreigners,” he says.
Born and raised in Ghana, Samy first came to Japan in 1990. “My sister married a Japanese man who was an architect brought to Ghana to build an institute for Dr Hideyo Noguchi. He took care of me from the time I was 11, all the way through school. When he and my sister moved back to Japan, they invited me to continue my education in Japan. I went to a language school for two years.”
In 1993, Samy got his first taste of the Japanese entertainment world when he participated in a Japanese-language singing contest for foreigners. “I sang one of Saburo Kitajima’s songs and won the Grand Prix. One of the judges, Motoko Inagawa, asked me to join her talent agency. She was like a godmother to me.”
From then on, Samy appeared in the theatre, TV dramas, commercials, variety programs, as well as taking part in many international exchange events. Four years ago, he started his own talent management company – Bayside Co. “We currently have over 500 foreigners on the books…adults and kids of all races. I do a lot of networking and marketing for Bayside, providing talent for all sorts of areas, such as TV commercials.”
Last year, Samy started helping Seven Bank by giving out flyers for their money transfer service at an African festival. Soon after that, he began appearing on posters.
“Prior to that, I knew about Western Union because that’s how I used to send money back home to my mother. But the Seven Bank service is really convenient. It’s amazing, and so simple for busy people. I have to help my family back home all the time. I use the service maybe 2-3 times a month.”
By using the Internet/mobile banking network, you can send money anytime 24 hours a day from Seven Bank ATMs at about 16,000 locations nationwide. Under an agreement with Western Union, recipients are able to collect money at more than 400,000 locations in about 200 countries. Users can send 10,000 yen for only 990 yen and 50,000 yen for only 1,500 yen, with no payment due on the receiving end. Receivers do not need to open a bank account.
So far, the main users are Filipinos, followed by Chinese and Japanese. Right now, users can see only two languages on the ATMs — English and Japanese – but Seven Bank officials say that in future, they will consider adding Chinese, Tagalog, Portuguese and Spanish. The explanation for registration procedures on Seven Bank’s home page is in 10 languages.
“Registration is very easy. Just fill out the form and the people you want to send money to,” said Samy. “I tell all my friends about the service. I use my iPad to send money 80% of the time, but the ATM is simple, too.”
When Samy is not working, he says he loves to listen to music. “I listen to iTunes and recently, I bought an Apple TV which I connect to my TV. Other than that, I love playing basketball,” he says.
For more information on Seven Bank’s money transfer service, visit: