Singapore as a Strategic Hub for Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ

Nobuyuki Hirano, chairman of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ

Nobuyuki Hirano, chairman of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ

Japan's largest bank is eyeing South-east Asia as the world's highest-growth region and Singapore, in particular, has a crucial role.

«We really believe Asean has the highest growth potential globally, with average growth of 5 per cent,» Nobuyuki Hirano, chairman of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), told «The Straits Times» (paywall) in an interview published on Monday.

«The middle-class population is growing, the economic structure is becoming more robust, and if the Asean Economic Community is successfully implemented, I expect that growth to be sustained over the years,», he added.

Bold Ambitions

The BTMU is part of Japanese financial giant Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFJ) Financial Group. Hirano is also the latter's group president and chief executive. Singapore's position as one of the international trade and business hubs can help the BTMU push for further growth in trade financing, Hirano believes. Infrastructure financing is another area in which the 64-year-old banker has bold ambitions, according to «The Straits Times». The MUFJ group was the top project finance institution globally last year, with 143 deals or 5.8 per cent of global market share under its belt.

On this front, Hirano hopes to see strong cooperation between his bank and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). «I am very interested in the MAS initiative to develop an infrastructure loan distribution platform. The infrastructure investment demand is gigantic - about S$10.9 trillion in the current decade – and asset managers' appetite for diversified asset classes is also rising,» he said.

Close to the MAS

Hirano sits on the MAS' International Advisory Panel. Discussions at the panel are now focusing strongly on ideas of fintech and smart nation, he said, adding that the BTMU is committed to sharing its experience and innovation with Singapore.

Last Friday, the BTMU signed a deal with IBM to pilot the use of blockchain in contract management here, with the aim to apply the solution within its business in 2017, as also reported.

Meanwhile, Hirano expects the bank to launch a new digital transformation lab here next year. The lab will be BTMU's first outside of Japan and the United States.

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