March 18, 2014 12:51 am JST

New banks in Japan launching niche services

TOKYO -- New entrants into the Japanese banking business are bolstering niche corporate services that century-old rivals are unlikely to handle.

     Seven Bank, a unit of retail giant Seven & I Holdings, is offering a multiuser ATM card for overnight cash deposits into the bank's ATMs at 7-Eleven convenience stores. An ATM at a 7-Eleven store in Tokyo's Shinjuku processes as many as 10 deposits a night from managers of restaurants and gasoline stations, a bank official says.

     Following a wave of branch closings by major banks, fewer ATMs now serve as overnight safes for local businesses needing a place to deposit the day's proceeds. Seven Bank, which offers round-the-clock access to its 20,000 ATMs, has been focusing on customers in greater Tokyo but will step up marketing in the Osaka metropolitan area in fiscal 2014. It seeks to nearly double business customers over the next three years.

     Rakuten Bank, an online latecomer to banking, now lets businesses wire money overseas via the Internet. The new service is popular among importers of apparel and other goods, and the value of transactions is expected to jump 30% on the year for fiscal 2013.

     The group member of e-commerce giant Rakuten charges 1,000 yen ($9.76), about half the rates of major brick-and-mortar banks. The service lets customers send money to more than 200 countries in 67 currencies, and the bank plans to increase destinations further.

     Japan Net Bank has teamed up with Visa to offer debit cards to small businesses whose unstable revenues prevent them from opening up credit card accounts.

     Aeon Bank is focusing on farming cooperatives that do not do much business with major banks. It started on a trial basis a lending program for agricultural cooperatives supplying produce to Aeon group supermarkets last summer and will launch a full-fledged business next fiscal year.

(Nikkei)

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