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Japanese brokers say goodbye to 'hanko' seals on contracts

COVID crisis forces brokers to turn to digital technology to cut costs

'Hanko' seals have been widely used in Japan since at least the nineteenth century as a way to authenticate contracts.

TOKYO -- SMBC Nikko Securities, a top Japanese brokerage house, will allow clients to open an account without the need to provide hanko seals on their contracts at all its branches starting this month. All they will need is a Nikko sales representative to fill in a form on an iPad and take photos of their IDs using the tablet.

The digital form sends an alert when it is not filled in properly, eliminating any need for it to be refiled. Information about how to invest in the account will be sent by email. "It improves both customer satisfaction and business efficiency," said an SMBC Nikko spokesperson.

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