Ever since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe`s Cabinet placed FinTech in their 2016 Japan Revitalization strategy, Japanese financial institutions, corporates and waves of young Japanese minds have slowly built interest and unlike the Japan of the past, new ideas and new talent have been welcomed by government agencies. This “open door” strategy taken by the government is very un-Japanese in the minds of many. The Financial Services Agency (FSA) and The Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry (METI) have encouraged new industry activity while at the same time have ensured oversight in these new businesses.
In 2015, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) opened a Fintech Support Desk to help new firms understand the complex list of rules and regulations needed when building out a new product and firm. Still, there are some who are coming from overseas areas such as the US, China, Switzerland and Israel who feel that, although moving forward, Japanese institutions are still lagging and need to open up more to ideas and investment.
One of our partners, in a recent meeting with Japanese bankers and a start-up, learned how conservative some of these bankers truly are just by listening to the line of questioning. Bankers are buy nature, especially in Japan, conservative with regards to new investments. So while it seems that the government and its institutions are encouraging a new ecosystem and industry, some Japanese investors need a lot of hand holding, and support in face-to-face meetings. This is a cultural aspect of Japan but note that it is magnified by the shock of the 2008 crisis in which Japanese banks became ultra-conservative, resulting in confusion and frustration by overseas visitors who are eager to do business in Tokyo and Osaka.
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