Major Japanese banks setting up small outlets

Japanese major banks are moving to increase compact branches focusing on services that can expect high demand.

The aim is to attract visitors to the outlets while promoting cost cutting. The number of customers who visit banks for cash transactions has been decreasing as cashless payments and online banking become common.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation plans to convert 250 sites, or 60 percent of its branches, to small ones by the end of fiscal 2025.

The compact banks will focus on retail services, including asset management and inheritance consultations.

Demand in these areas is growing on the back of such factors as population aging and the tax-exemption program for individual investors called NISA. Incentives for the program were recently expanded.

The small establishments can reduce maintenance costs as they are located in commercial facilities rather than in the bank's own properties.

The number of staff members can also be cut down as cash is handled only at ATMs in principle.

Mizuho Bank set up a small branch near Ikebukuro Station in central Tokyo, solely for people to open accounts.

It is open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. to allow people to stop by on their way home from work and school. The bank says it takes half the usual time to open accounts there.

The head of the new outlet, Yoshida Sayuri, says it plans to make preparations for providing online and face-to-face services for asset management going forward.