In quest to go paperless (and save money), Mizuho to start charging for bank books – Japan Today

From the beginning of 2021, customers under the age of 70 who open new accounts in Mizuho Bank will be charged a service fee of 1,100 yen if they desire a bank book.

"MUFG and Mitsui Sumitomo banks have already been making moves toward adoption of digital bank books," an executive at one of Japan's megabanks informs Shukan Bunshun (Sept 3). "Unless a customer makes a specific request, it they do not issue paper bank books."

The phasing out of bank books is being adopted as a cost-reduction measure.

"Each bank book requires payment of 200 yen in inshizei (revenue tax stamps)," said an employee of the Mizuho Financial Group. "For the banking industry as a whole, you're looking at annual tax payments of 70 billion yen, and on top of that there are labor costs involved.

"The charge set by Mizuho is roughly the same amount as tax and labor costs combined," he adds.

"From next year, bank books that have received no entries for one year or more will automatically be switched over to the new type," said the Mizuho source. "We expect 70% of the new accounts to move to digital, which is expected to save us several billion yen."

"About 40% of our 27 million individual account holders and this year 60% of customers opening new accounts are opting for web accounts, without paper bank books," a spokesperson for the Mitsui Sumitomo Bank is quoted as saying. He added that the coronavirus situation has stimulated demand for internet banking.

In the past, internet banking was saddled with a number of disadvantages. One, for instance, was that the data concerning past transactions could not be accessed after reaching an expiration date. Thanks, however, to the growth in cloud storage services, large volumes of data can be accessed via the internet without appreciably raising data storage costs.

As a result, Mitsui Sumitomo bank is informing customers they will be able access their records for 30 years; for holders of MUFG and Mizuho digital accounts data access will extend back 10 years.

Tatsufumi Sakai, president and group CEO of the Mizuho Financial Group, was also heard to remark, "The time might eventually come when bank ATMs vanish, like what's been happening with public phones now."

In other efforts at streamlining, from October, Mizuho bank branches will no longer require customers to apply their hanko (personal seal) or fill out forms.

"Customers who come in to open accounts will be able to do so at the counter using tablet terminals," said a company executive. "Before, back office staff had been printing out the input data to reconfirm it. But from October, the entire process will become paperless. Most of the other megabanks have pretty much adopted similar procedures up to now."

Banks and bank books are finally starting to keep up with the changing times.

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In quest to go paperless (and save money), Mizuho to start charging for bank books - Japan Today

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