Fintech Status and the Representative Services & Companies in Japan

Fintech

At present, the field of financial IT technology called Fintech is drawing attention around the world. In Japan as well, the government is supporting the use of IT in the financial field, and also the term Fintech is used every day in major financial industries and startups.

In this article, for foreigners who are interested in Japan’s Fintech field, we will explain in an easy-to-understand manner the current status of Fintech in Japan and the featured companies in the field.

What is Fintech?

First of all, we would like to explain what Fintech is.

Financial technology (abbreviated fintech or FinTech) is the technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services. It is an emerging industry that uses technology to improve activities in finance.[2] The use of smartphones for mobile banking, investing, borrowing services[3], and cryptocurrency are examples of technologies aiming to make financial services more accessible to the general public. Financial technology companies consist of both startups and established financial institutions and technology companies trying to replace or enhance the usage of financial services provided by existing financial companies.

Reference: The Free Encyclopedia “Wikipedia”

In more simple words, it is about transforming existing financial services and creating new services using advanced IT technologies such as AI, big data, IoT, and blockchain. Some familiar examples are, remittance and payment using smartphones, virtual currency using blockchain technology, etc.

Why Fintech gets attention from IT Engineers in Japan?

Currently, the Fintech area is receiving a lot of attention from IT engineers in Japan, and the number of IT engineers who are changing jobs to the Fintech field is increasing. The reasons for this are “magnitude of social impact” and “acquisition and application of advanced IT technology”.

The Magnitude of Social Impact

“Money” is indispensable to establish the economy and people’s lives, by transforming financial services, there is a potential to significantly change the economy and people’s lives. Therefore, many entrepreneurs and IT engineers who want to make a big impact on society are challenging in the Fintech field, and the government is supporting it.

As we will explain later, the business in the Fintech area is outstanding, also in financing Japanese startups. Major banks and insurance companies have also started CVC (Corporate Venture Capital) and various fintech-related businesses. The number of these cases are increasing by investing in startups, making capital and business alliances.

Acquisition and Application of Advanced IT Technology

In the Fintech field, there are opportunities to use advanced IT technologies, and we can say that it is an attractive career development environment for IT engineers who want to hone their technical skills. Related technologies that are important in FinTech include big data, AI, blockchain, and IoT.
If you are interested in those technologies, please refer to the following article for related technologies in Fintech and their recruitment demand.

Fintech Four Key Advanced Technologies and Each Job Demand in Japan

11 Fields of Fintech and their Representative Services

Currently, the “Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry” and Japanese consulting firms are frequently researching the trends of Fintech around the world and Japan. As the segment used at that time, fintech is divided into 11 fields.

  1. Smart Payment
  2. Investment/Asset management/Robot-advisor
  3. Virtual currency
  4. Household Management and Advice (PMF: Personal Financial Management)
  5. Social Lending
  6. Crowdfunding
  7. Insurance
  8. Loans/Loans
  9. Accounting/Finance
  10. Remittance & Split Bills
  11. Financial Information

From now, we would like to explain each field and its representative services.

Smart Payment

Smart payments are electronic payment methods that does not require cash or financial institution procedures. Using smart payment eliminates the need for cash management, procedures time at financial institutions, and also reduce the fee. Smart payments can broaden the range of payment methods for consumers.

There are roughly two types of smart payments currently used in Japan, card payments and QR code payments are often used.

Credit card payments and debit card payments are the most common examples of payment using a card. Payment is performed by entering card information online or displaying a card at a store. Recently, not only credit cards but also prepaid cards have been attracting attention. For example, LINE pay cards.

Prepaid cards can be issued without a screening, they can be used for payment only as much as you charged them at a convenience store. It is a card that can be used by young people who couldn’t have a credit card until now.

Regarding QR code payment, many major IT companies such as PayPay, Merpay, Rakuten Pay have entered the market, the settlement is completed by reading the QR code via a smartphone. QR code payments have already become mainstream in China and other countries. PayPay used China’s Alipay technology and features as a reference.

Representative Services of Smart Payment

PayPay (In Japanese), Merpay (In Japanse), Paidy (In Japanese), etc.

Investment/Asset Management/Robot-advisor

This is a service that selects and manages financial merchandise using analysis by AI in asset management such as stocks. Since AI learns data daily, it is said that asset management and investment by AI will be more accurate than human prediction in the future.

A Robot-advisor means that an AI robot manages personal assets. In Japan, there are two types of Robot-advisors: the discretionary investment type, that manages and sells based on investment algorithms and, advice type that diagnoses and advises asset management.

Representative Services for Investment/Asset Management and Robo-advisor

WealthNavi (In Japanese), THEO (In Japanese), etc.

Virtual Currency

By utilizing blockchain technology, virtual currency is a currency that can store transaction records such as deposits and withdrawals even if there is no centralized management agency such as banks. Unlike fiat currencies such as yen and dollars, it is a new currency that doesn’t have the form of bills or coins.

Previously, it was reported in the news that the number of people holding a virtual currency for investment purposes increased, and the value of virtual currency rose and fell sharply. Also, there was a case in which the virtual currency leaked due to hacking because the security management of the virtual currency vendor was weak.

Thereby, the public image of virtual currencies has become temporarily deteriorated, but as of July 2020, the virtual currency market has been stable, and it is expected that the market will expand steadily in the future.

Representative Services of Virtual Currency (Virtual Currency Business Operator)

bitFlyer, Coincheck, etc.

Household Management and Advice (PMF: Personal Financial Management)

One of the most familiar fields of Fintech is PMF. The main function of this is to manage daily spendings and incomes. In a nutshell, it plays the role of a household account book application. Unlike the household account book softwares and apps that have been used up to now, it is possible to manage accounts of various financial institutions with one service. Furthermore, bank account information, but you can also get information about payments by credit card and other payment methods.

Representative Services of PMF

Money Forward
It is one of the Japanese companies that provide PMF services. This app allows you to check the electronic money used at convenience stores, credit cards used for shopping, bank accounts with salaries transferred. Japan’s top household account book application with more than 8 million people.

Dr. Wallet (In Japanese)
It is the second most popular household account book application after money forward with more than 1 million users.

Social Lending

Social lending, also known as “lending-type crowdfunding,” is a service that connects borrowers (mainly companies) and investors who want to invest money through financial products. Companies that provide social lending services perform, borrower screening, investor recruitment, loans, repayments, and also performs distribution management.

The difference with mutual funds is that investors find the lenders, and the price is not affected by the market price.

Representative services for social lending

SBI Social Lending, CROWD CREDIT, etc.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a service that allows you to raise a small amount of money from an unspecified number of people via Internet. In the case of financing, generally, there are loans from banks and investment by venture capital. But unlike traditional funding, crowdfunding is getting attention as a new funding mechanism for been “Easy”, “High diffusivity” and “Implementing test marketing”.

Anyone who has an idea or wants to solve a social problem or launch a new product can become a “drafter”, and anyone who wants to support it or want to help try to a new product is a “supporter”. in this way, in crowdfunding, It is to raise money by recruiting people on the Internet to fund the project that the creator wants to do.

Representative Services for Crowdfunding

Camp-Fire, Makuake, Ready For, etc.

Insurance

Until now, it was supposed to take out insurance through an insurance salesman or an agent, but in recent years, online insurance services have grown now till you can take out insurance with just one smartphone. With LINE insurance you can take out insurance in as little as 60 seconds using a smartphone.

There is also a system that uses IT for car insurance, to acquire and analyze driver data such as mileage and driving characteristics, determining insurance premiums based on that data.

Representative Services for Insurance

LINE Hoken, Sony Assurance / Good Drive (In Japanese), etc.

Financing/Loans

Fintech is being utilized for the financing of banks and loan companies. This technology has been used in mortgage comparison, mortgage refinancing services, the examination of borrowers using big data, the limit of lending, determination of loan interest rate, etc.

Representative Services Financing and Loan

J.Score (In Japanese), WhatzMoney (In Japanese), etc.

Accounting/Finance

Various cloud services are being offered in the fields of corporate accounting and financial management. In the past accounting process, there were many human errors and wasted time, but with the advent of cloud services, the accounting process time is shortened, human errors are reduced. Now, it is possible to visualize the accounting status of the company.

Accounting/Finance Representative Services

freee, Yayoi-kaikei, etc.

Remittance & Split Bills

Services that allow people to share payments, receive money, and pay for drinking parties (Nomikai) through smartphone apps are becoming popular. When carrying out split bills, it was very troublesome to calculate by 1 yen and collect cash, but due to this technology, it turns possible to easily split bills without cash.

Representative Services for Remittance and Split Bills

Kyash (In Japanese), YoroPay (In Japanese), etc.

Financial Information

Financial and economic data needs to be collected efficiently when an investor manages an asset or when a corporate business planning department makes a strategy. In response to such needs, using IT technology to analyze huge amounts of financial and economic data, a service that can obtain high-quality information in a short time has been created.

Representative services for financial information

ZUU, SPEEDA, etc.

Fintech Chaos Map of Japan

Lastly, we would like to introduce the Japanese Fintech service landscape map announced by MA STAND.Fintechカオスマップ
In addition to the services mentioned above, various companies provide services.

Reference:【Fintech Industry Landscape Map 2019】Top 50 FinTech Companies in Japan / MA STAND

Conclusion

Many fintech services have been created in Japan, and considering the magnitude of social impact and the acquisition of advanced technology for IT engineers, the fintech field is a very rewarding environment for them.

If you are a foreign IT engineer who wants to work in the Japanese fintech industry, please register with GTalnet, a recruitment agency specialized in foreign IT engineers. A professional consultant will help you to find a job in the field of fintech for free.

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