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The Japanese culture is a combination of traditional and modern like few others. When you think of Japan, it would be normal to associate their culture with digital technology, mobile phones and virtual reality, but when it comes to banking, the old system remains firmly rooted to its analogue ways.
Walk into any branch of a bank in Japan and it is a thing of luxury; all the personalized assistance, glamourous lobbies and plush furnishings you could imagine. All for a simple bill payment or money transfer at the cashpoint. So why go to such lengths when the global future of banking is proven to be so clearly digital?
As it stands, less than 20% of the Japanese population use digital banking services, and for a small country, Japan has what could be considered too many banks for the number of users; a branch on every corner and as a result, there is no inconvenience associated with going to the bank to carry out daily transactions.
People in Japan trust their banks implicitly, often holding between 3 and 5 different bank accounts, and as such traditional banks are reluctant to change the status quo. A case of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. Can they afford to remain in this offline, transaction-only existence simply because their clients have an overtly analogue mindset, or is it time to force them get up to speed, in keeping with the rest of the world?
It seems clear that it is precisely this that worries banks of this kind: too much world to be discovered, so by remaining firmly un-digital, they remove the risk of customers being tempted by the competition. The prettier the bank’s facilities, the more attentive the staff, the lower the chances their clients will jump ship?
Kazuya Sakakibara, Executive Officer of IT Strategy and Product Development at Jibun Bank, the only Japanese mobile-first bank in Japan, says:
With the remaining 80% of the population still ripe for the picking by digitalized banking services, surely the race is now on for banks to be the main platform on which to aggregate user’s other bank accounts?
Jibun Bank is the first mobile-centric bank in a traditional Japan, and as such, a ground-breaker in this country, as it has no physical branches or cashiers to speak of. All transactions traditionally carried out at the bank can now be done via their online application.
Though they are fully aware of the challenges this new system poses, they are focused on improving communication with their clients, albeit through virtual technology or chatbots. The move from transactional banking to relationship banking is underway, but thanks to banks like Jibun, the relationship is revolutionizing a stagnant system.
This post originally appeared on blog.strands.com