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Japan's regional banks turn to tech under pressure to evolve

Negative interest rates and shareholders force managers to adopt new ways

Japan's regional lenders are gaining a sense of urgency and becoming more IT literate, trends investors appear to be applauding. (Source photos by Ken Kobayashi and Kaisuke Ota)

TOKYO -- Signs are emerging that Japan's regional banks are starting to address their chronic profitability problems with a belated shift to cloud infrastructure and other cutting-edge solutions.

A year ago, Hokkoku Bank in Kanazawa became Japan's first bank to replace its payment and settlement system -- the backbone of any bank -- with one based on Microsoft's Azure cloud. Now, at least seven other regional lenders have taken or are planning to take similar steps, out of some 100 regional banks in the country.

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