Japan Today

Sony Bank launches new English online banking service


Sony Bank Incorporated on Monday announced the launch of a new English-language online banking service, aiming to provide foreign residents in Japan with a seamless, hassle-free way to open a bank account and conduct everyday banking in English.

As of June 2019 (1), the number of foreign residents in Japan had grown to 2.82 million, up 7.3 percent from the previous year, and these numbers are expected to increase further. Meanwhile, according to an online survey (2) of foreign residents conducted by Sony Bank, 60 percent of respondents indicated that they were dissatisfied with banking procedures in Japan. The most commonly cited reasons for this lack of satisfaction included complicated paperwork and procedures, the need for hanko seals, and a lack of language support.

When asked what services they would like from banks in Japan, the top response from foreign residents was the need for online banking and being able to conduct everyday banking transactions without having to visit the bank in person. These results reaffirmed that there is potential for Japanese banks to provide more user-friendly services aimed at foreign residents in Japan, with seamless English banking systems and support services.

Taking into account Japan’s internationalization and needs of the expatriate community, Sony Bank decided to establish a new English smartphone app that would take the hassle out of opening an account in Japan and allow account holders to make everyday banking transactions online. The new service makes banking simple for non-Japanese residents, including a dedicated English smartphone app that uses cutting-edge OCR technology (3) to make the account opening process quick and easy, without the need for complicated paperwork.

Sony Bank said it is committed to meeting its customers’ diverse needs and making their banking experience convenient and easy.

Overview of English online banking

  1. OCR Open Account App for foreign residents in Japan
  2. User-friendly English website
  3. Seamless smartphone banking site
  4. Live chat and email support in English


Sony Bank’s new English online banking includes products and services such as yen and foreign currency deposits, fund transfers, foreign currency remittances, and the Sony Bank WALLET (debit card with Visa functionality). Please refer to the official website for full details.

(*1) Source: Ministry of Justice "Foreign Residents Statistics (Formerly Foreigner Statistics) Statistical Table”

(*2) Source: Opinion Poll on Japanese Bank. (Sony Bank survey, March 23, 2020)

(*3) Optical Character Recognition function that reads handwritten or printed characters with an image scanner or digital camera and converts them into character data.

Source: Sony Bank

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I remember when shinsei bank was the gaijin savior. They offered services and support in English. Any current customers know that they pulled a bait-n-switch. It is no longer that good.

Is Sony going to pull a bait-n-switch too?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

SMBC Trust - ex Citibank has always served in English online and continues to do so. No gimmicks, Debit card avaiable recently, very sensible FX rates. Shinsei...yes short lived as an alternative.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Does not look appealing. Just Yen & FX deposits. No Mutual funds, or other investments available. May as well just stick with Shinsei/Prestia(SMBC).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was using Shinsei as my daily bank until they started charging for withdrawals. Four free is enough to get me to take a closer look.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I’m using Shinsei and as said above am looking for alternatives now that they charge for withdrawals. Anyone know a bank that doesn’t?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Next, they will be asking for your My Number especially if you are using it to remit money abroad.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sony bank will charge ATM usage fees... read the webpages.

@drlucifier - yes, I wonder how long their Banking License will last, before Compliance issues are exposed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A foreigner posted on twitter today that he went thru the application process, only for the app to tell him his application was "incomplete" and thus cancelled.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Also, Sony Bank's Free ATM withdrawals are somewhat more expensive than elsewhere... I think they need to do a better job in order to seriously attract attention to their services, as their Services appear... Meh?!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow - Sony Bank are pitched to have put proper research into this product. But still the requirements and documentation to open an account far exceed other banks; proving very difficult for professionals who are new arrivals in Japan.

Quite misleading, but also a poor business model. Catch the foreigners when they first arrival to keep their banking business...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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