Japanese financial firms find new value in the digital realm


The Yomiuri Shimbun
A workshop offered by Blue Lab Co. in the Toranomon district, Minato Ward, Tokyo

Financial companies are racing to find new value with the latest digital solutions. Megabanks and other financial institutions are using their expertise in processing large volumes of payments to expand the range of their business contacts and explore new opportunities.

Blue Lab Co., an IT company backed by Mizuho Bank, recently started offering training courses aimed at improving workers’ digital skills. Based in Tokyo’s Toranomon district, the courses focus on improving the digital skill levels of non-experts, rather than those already in highly specialized IT positions.

“It’s important to be able to talk with outside contractors on an equal footing and create a system where everyone involved can work comfortably,” said Yoshiaki Tamura of Blue Lab.

Members of the Digital Transformation and Innovation Promotion Office of Yamanashi Chuo Bank, Ltd. attended the first classes of the month-long course.

Lessons will include the use of cloud-based systems and artificial intelligence.

“I will be able to use what I learn here to help business partners, for example,” said participant Yohei Otagiri, 31.

Mizuho Bank suffered a series of system failures last year. The bank then learned from failure that it could not leverage its systems built on the expertise of four major IT companies.

In April, Resona Holdings Inc. established Resona Digital Hub Co. in collaboration with IT companies and conducted business negotiations with over 100 companies. Resona Digital Hub hopes to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses wishing to improve their digital systems.

“We want to provide a wide range of businesses with the payment methods we have developed in our banking operations by combining them with cashless and other IT technologies,” said Resona Digital Hub President Naoki Ito. .

Underlying some of these measures is a growing concern that a lack of IT talent could be a barrier to the country’s economic growth.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has said that Japan will lack 430,000 IT specialists in 2025. According to the Information Technology Promotion Agency, 76% of Japanese companies report a shortage computer workers.

In the securities industry, however, SBI Holdings Inc., Japan’s largest online brokerage, already provides banking systems, apps and other solutions to regional banks.

Competition in the area of ​​digitization has intensified and the financial community seems eager to find value in this new area of ​​growth.