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Japan Post Bank: Co-creation helps customers & communities

The platform will be a tool in resolving issues in society and contributing to the development of a sustainable society:

Japan Post Bank is part of Japan Post Holdings, which has been a crucial financial institution in Japan. The postal savings system continues to be the primary operations of Japan Post Holdings. In 2005, the Japanese Government mooted a plan to privatize the postal system in the country, and the plan included creating a separate company to operate the postal banking services. The idea was to create Japan Post Bank as an independent entity, with the government selling off its shares in a phased manner. The bank would, however, continue to operate from the post office branches. The privatisation journey began in 2007 and despite several hiccups, the bank became a publicly traded entity in November 2015 when its shares came to be traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and about 10% of shares listed. The government still has a holding of 57% in Japan Post Holdings and Japan Post Holdings in turn owns 90% of Japan Post Bank.

LARGEST IN WORLD

In 2019, Japan Post Bank managed over ¥205 trillion (around $3.22 trillion) of assets, has 24,000 branches across the country and around 120 million customer accounts. It also operated 30,000 ATMs. At one point of time, it was the largest financial institution in the world, offering all sorts of financial services to the Japanese people and working for the economic and industrial growth of the country.  The bank also provides financial services in rural areas.

Japan Post Holdings has been facing several challenges in view of domestic factors, the prominent among then being the dwindling business of the postal services and the low interest regime. The Group has therefore decided to set up a ‘Co-creation Platform’ to support customers and local communities by resolving issues in society and contributing to its sustainable development. The core strategy is to make use of digital technologies and related methods to enhance and strengthen the main businesses – the postal and domestic logistics business, the banking business and the life insurance business, even while looking for new opportunities for revenue. It has devised a Group Medium-term Management Plan, called ‘JP Vision 2025’, which is a 5-year plan starting FY2021.

HELPING CUSTOMERS, COMMUNITY

The Co-creation Platform is essentially intended to support customers and local communities. The thrust is to combine the real-world post office network and digital technologies, in other words digital post offices through a process of digital transformation. At the same time, the focus will also be on enhancing and strengthening the postal and domestic logistics business, banking business and life insurance business.

Japan Post Holdings has decided to collaborate with Rakuten Group, a Japanese e-commerce and online retailing company, to take up several initiatives especially in digital transformation and modernizing logistics. The Group plans to invest ¥150 billion ($1.4 billion) to acquire a 8.3% stake in Rakuten to firm up the partnership.

One of the key initiatives planned under the collaboration is to make postal services accessible through smartphones 365 days and conversion of physical post offices into digital ones. Such an initiative is all the more necessary as the post offices provide banking and insurance services on a very large scale and according to Hiroya Masuda, President and CEO of Japan Post Holdings, it is the ambition of the Group to break free from the 9-to-5 constraints of the post office’s physical branches. He says the services the Group provides are services that should be possible to use in the middle of the night, even with a smartphone.

Japan Post Bank has a smartphone-based payment service called Yucho Pay, which pays a participating store directly from the user’s bank account. The service, initially launched with approximately 10,000 customers, also allows for payments or withdrawals through scanning QR codes.

The bank plans to make cashless payments routine. It understands that introducing more digital technologies will help the post office deal with the labor shortages that plague many Japanese businesses.

NEW CONVENIENCE, PEACE OF MIND

The bank has recently conceptualized a strategy of providing ‘new convenience’ and ‘peace of mind’ to individual customers as part of its medium-term management plan. This is explained as the mission to pursue ‘new convenience’ through the addition of new technologies to improve convenience for customers within the financial industry, while using the sense of security that the bank has nurtured in its customers since the postal savings era as a foundation for business. It intends to provide financial services that live up to this ‘new convenience’, including enhancement of cashless payments and expansion of its ATM network.

As part of providing ‘peace of mind’ to the customers, the bank says it will focus on supporting asset building, such as through the proposal of investment trusts based on long-term investments in coordination with the post office network. There will be newer and appropriate investment products to meet the needs and objectives of the customers.

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This article has been compiled based on publicly available information on the web, particularly the bank’s own website.

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