Blog | Friday 12 February 2016
Naomi Takegoshi, Senior Trade Adviser from the Financial & Business Services sector at UKTI Japan discusses the growing fintech market in Japan.
Fintech is New to Japan But Making Up for Lost Time
The UKTI Tokyo team received a delegation of 10 UK fintech companies for its first ever fintech trade mission to Japan. They were joined by Anna Wallace, Head of Innovation Hub, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Nicola Penfold, UKTI London and Shaul David, Fintech Specialist at UKTI.
Fintech has suddenly become a buzzword in Japan this year, slightly later than in the UK or in the US. The three “Mega Banks” were becoming aware of the competition coming from the tech sector. All three set up dedicated teams to explore the scope for working with innovative fintech companies to improve their customer experience and survive in the increased competition fintech is likely to cause in the future. Our contact at the Japanese Financial Services Agency (JFSA) jokingly said “At first I thought it meant technology from Finland!” But now the government is strongly aware of the importance of fintech and its potential to transform the current financial services market and is actively considering measures to harness the fintech industry in Japan.
The objective of the trade mission was for UK delegates to learn and improve their understanding of the Japanese market, to help them make connections with potential partners/customers and to help them develop their Japan entry strategies. We arranged an intensive 4 days for the group; a series of briefings, two influential platforms to present their products to a large Japanese audience and a workshop with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI – our Department for Business, Innovation and Skills equivalent).
UK Fintech Delegates Learned About the Japanese Market During the Trade Mission
Although, this was our first event on fintech, we are glad that it felt very much a part of Tokyo’s larger fintech promotion movement encompassing officials, regulators, growing Japanese fintech start-ups, lawyers, experts and fintech teams at banks. They all seemed to be there. We were also fortunate to work with NTT Data, a leading provider of IT solutions to the banks who form an important part of the infrastructure. They very kindly organised a special session of their series of Open Innovation conferences “Toyosu no Minato kara (From the port of Toyosu)” to coincide with this trade mission. The event gave delegates the opportunity to have exposure to another large audience during our “Fintech Seminar” at the British Ambassador’s Residence. After the four days, I strongly believe the UK our UK government/industry fintech group has secured a solid foothold in Tokyo’s fintech community.
It was a great pleasure and benefit to work with Japanese government officials such as JFSA. They kindly sent their expert staff to brief our delegates whilst they were preparing busily for the launch of the fintech helpdesk the following week (almost timed for our delegation!) and various deliberations for legislative changes. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Adding to that, METI also held a fintech study group with the delegates which was joined by Anna Wallace. This was a very open forum in which fintech start-ups of both countries could share issues they were facing (e.g., working with regulators, big banks – would they see you as a collaborator or a threat?) with both regulators. We are pleased to have been able to have some input and influence towards METI’s work in growing the fintech industry in Japan.
Fintech will Remain a Strong Theme Throughout 2016
We are confident that fintech will continue to be a strong theme in Japan for 2016 too and look forward to running future activities. Already we hear that quite a few Japanese contacts seem to be going to Finovate in London in February 2016. We have a very comprehensive report on the Japanese fintech scene with information such as what Japanese banks are doing and which companies are active in provide services. You can download this free report here.
To get a feel of the fintech seminar we held for the delegates, you can also watch this 5 minute feature on a Japanese economic news TV programme: http://www.nhk.or.jp/keizai/frontline/20151212.html
We look forward to working with more UK fintech companies to be part of this new movement!