Major Japanese Finance Groups Jump Into Fintech

Yet more banks, this time in Japan, are dipping their toes into the fintech startup waters in an effort to keep up to speed with the rapid pace of financial technology advances.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group have announced the formation of a new ‘IT Innovation Department’ in order to strengthen their efforts and pursue fintech related innovation.

SMBC president and CEO Takeshi Kunibe and SMFG president Koichi Miyata commented that the brisk evolution of the IT and Internet society with fintech startups and non financial corporations entering the financial industry

had led to innovation and diversification of client interest which has quickly and dramatically transformed the business environment of existing financial institutions.

SMFG formed a project team in August 2012 to address the changes which in turn led to ideas such as utilizing IBM Watson in contact centre operations to improve the quality of customer interactions and also signing a partnership with the Plug&Play Tech Centre in Silicon Valley to reach out for the latest financial related technology and business models.

The newly established ‘IT Innovation Department’ will not only inherit functions of the cross project team but will further strengthen efforts to pursue innovations by implementing the Open Innovation Concept which focuses on actively utilising external knowledge and pursuing new business models through alliances with non-financial corporations and the Agile Development Concept which accelerates cycles of planning and prototyping/testing of new financial products and services.

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