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Banking & Finance

MUFG to open up banking systems to app developers

Japanese group aims to spur fintech innovation via secure access

TOKYO -- Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group will try to stimulate the development of new financial technology services, such as apps for easily sending money or managing assets, by giving outside companies a means of safely accessing data from its online banking systems.

The bank envisions startups and others developing smartphone apps for managing user account information or remitting money. A developer could employ MUFG tools to create an app enabling small and midsize businesses to easily pay multiple clients at once instead of handling transactions individually, for example.

Developers could also enhance robo-advisers -- services that use artificial intelligence to help people manage their portfolios -- to make it possible to receive investment advice and transfer money to buy financial instruments within the same platform.

Outside companies will be able to ask to use MUFG's application programming interfaces, or APIs, which are employed by websites and software to allow other sites or software to interact with them. After passing an initial review, companies will be able to use the tools in one or two months.

Some businesses already provide services like the ones mentioned, but without access to the bank's secure tools. So users must entrust their ID codes and passwords to them, raising security concerns. Permitting access to the APIs will likely spur development of a range of new services.

The holding company will first allow access to Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ systems, then follow suit with other group companies in securities and asset management. It will let outside developers use corporate online banking systems by summer and consumer ones within the year.

MUFG knows that people interact with their smartphones every day. By partnering with builders of smartphone-based services, it hopes to gain more points of contact with customers, helping the company keep an eye out for new business opportunities.

(Nikkei)

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