MUFG Bank to end over-the-counter int'l cash transfers to combat crime


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Based off of what I'm reading in the comments I'm just glad their North American subsidiary PurePoint Financial doesn't have these problems.

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On that TransferWise note.... they're 3 times as expensive as Bank.

For larger amts. say more than a million yen, they're not the best option. For smaller amts. their fees are more than competitive. I transferred 300,000 yen to my US acct. recently and the fee was only 2000yen. And it was there within the day, requiring no tedious bank or post office visits.

dmacleod, I love that Chase app. For years, I'd receive checks from the US in the mail, then mail them home, waiting for them to clear. As you said, now it's all done in moments.

And zichi, sorry for your loss. Tatsuno is a nice area.

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thank you. I’m not American so can’t open a bank account there.

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Welcome back! It's good to see you again.

My condolences for your loss. I went through something similar a few years back where I was the executor for my mother's estate and had to take care of everything--which was a challenge since I had to do it while I was here in Japan.

I don't know if this is possible for you, but here is how I got around all of this banking mess:

I opened an account with Chase in the U.S. (not sure if this is an option for you, but if it is, you might want to do it the next time you visit the U.S.). Then, any checks that I receive here in Japan from an American insurance company or bank, I simply take a photo of them with my smartphone and then directly deposit them into my Chase account in the U.S. (Chase has a great online app that lets you do this). After the check clears my Chase account (it takes a few minutes), I then transfer the money from my Chase account to my bank here in Japan (SMBC--and the wire fees are only about 4000 yen). The whole thing takes less than a day, and I can do it from the comfort of my home.

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In January, I received an American check in the post from an insurance company connected with the life insurance of my deceased mother. I tried to get the company to wire transfer to my Japanese account like Shinsei but was informed they will/can only issue checks which is becoming a nightmare of a problem here in Japan. 

Since last year, all the major banks, including Sumitomo, Mizuho and Shinsei no longer accept foreign checks into the yen or foreign currency accounts. Shinsei informed me that because the Citi Bank no longer accepted their checks they didn't any longer.

I discovered that the MUFG was still accepting foreign checks until May 31 this year. Travelled into Himeji City and opened two new MUFG accounts, yen and dollar deposit. At first they tried to prevent me from even opening the accounts, telling me that they didn't deal with foreigners. Shocked, considering the high numbers of foreigners visiting Himeji Castle. After some protesting and requesting to speak with the branch manager, I was allowed to open those accounts. My worse experience in my 25 years here.

Visited my MUFJ branch again in February when I received the American check but was informed by the manager of the Himeji branch that it could not deal with foreign checks. The manager arranged for me to visit a MUFJ branch in Kobe City, our previous living place. We now live near the beach in Tatsuno City. Beautiful place!

The Kobe branch accepted the American check and charged me ¥5,000. The staff handed me a leaflet stating their check dealings will end from May 31st.

Still waiting for the dollars to be deposited. There are no problems with wire transfers just cash/checks?

After my very negative experience with the MUFG, I then discovered it is possible to open an account online without visiting a branch.

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Also be wary of the Likes for Transferwise... employee incentives.... ?

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On that TransferWise note.... they're 3 times as expensive as Bank.

1 Million Yen to Sterling will set you back 6,444 Yen. Do it via Shinsei bank, and if you're a Platinum Customer you get it for free (once per month), otherwise 1800 yen. So, not so impressed by TransferWise.

Do your research before transferring money.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yes, they are wimps. Last time I went to open an account they ask for my US Social

Security number, not My Number. They kowtow to Uncle Sam, they told me.

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Yeah it’s really great when you have to prove why you need your own money.

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A no **** moment for sure... Banks in Japan have no idea.

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While checks are now stricter on banking relationships, I have had the same ATM card and bank account for over 20 years. At no point have I subsequently been asked to prove where I live or anything else.

The only difficulty is that my kana name now has a ten ten in it to improve pronunciation which was not in my bank kana name, so I have to demonstrate that I actually am the same person rather than two separate individuals with similar names.

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Took me a week to get money from my bank in the Uk. Had to make and register with my prefecture, a Japanese stamp. Then I had to prove what I needed my money for. It was my money in my bank in my name. Including travel time, I wasted about 7 hours of my time.

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...MUFG never informed me.

You are the receiving end of the payment so you will not get a notification whatsoever. Only the sender gets notified. This would be true for all banks.

Its like if you dialed a wrong phone number, will the person that you tried to call receive a notification saying someone tried to call?

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From years spent in Japan, now in Australia, I still have and enjoy the uses of an account with Sumitomo Mitsui. I regularly send money, in Yen, to my account ( for holidays etc ) and to family. I always use Transferwise. The costs and exchange rate are very fair, indeed cheap, and arrive in Japan on the next day. The remittance to my account goes in romanji and to family, in kana. Never a query from the two Japanese banks who collect the funds.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So many banks are being forced to reduce the types of service they provide or to massively beef up controls at the behest of regulators.  Ostensibly to "combat financial crime" .  And yet Western Union and its ilk as well as the new Fintechs offer all sorts of ways of transferring money and similar.  ridiculous.

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Uh no I filled out that form in 2015 when I opened an account. So try again as to who wanted Japan to make US citizens comply with this.

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This article seems incomplete.

What is not mentioned here is that you would have to give a Japanese bank your TIN - Tax Identification Number that you use in your home country to open an account here. Governments love distracting descriptions of their real purpose.

Are they really worried about terrorists? Probably not?

What this really does is empowers the IRS overseas. As well as other countries. Doubt it? Try going to any of the major Japanese banks and open an account now. There will be a special form for you to fill out from.....guess who? Uncle Sam. ( It wasn't always so ) Just ask someone who's been here a while.

*This article tactfully does not mention where this pressure comes from.

For the answer to this question........wait for it...........nah don't wait. Click here to see the proof.

Nominated by "Dotard".

Do your research!

Fear is the greatest motivator to get people to do what you want them to do. It is in this banking legislation document, in subsections, that you give up your freedom to privacy. Just food for thought. You can, of course, just believe what you are being told.

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@jefflee - In just one of many examples, they used to block my overseas clients payments to my account because the foreign clients didn't render my name in the correct katana. Naturally, the bank never notified me when this happened.

Generally overseas banks cannot write katakana, they can only use Roman alphabet. It's handy to confirm your business name in English/Romajii, or at least let them know under what name payments will be coming.

Similar issues come up with Japanese accountants, they cannot understand online payments, internet transactions, electronic estimates and contracts. They still have the Yayoi Jidai mentality, papers and hankos only. Interestingly, when my business was audited by the NTA, they accepted and understood it, after an explanation.

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A lot of this frobably stems from their reluctance to have to deal with anyone affected by US FATCA regulations, which threaten foreign financial institutions that do not respect the right of the US govt to impose extraterritorial regulations on them. Realize that most posters are probably not yanks, but this is a prime driver behind the Japanese govt actions. US citizens are now being asked for their SS numbers when opening accounts, and some brokerages are refusing to take new US clients for fear of running afoul of these regs. The govt may also be worried about currency flight, it's happened before.

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While I have no complaints about the staff at MUFG, making foreign transfers is a pain. I remember trying to make a transfer to Indonesia for registration fees to an event and they just went crazy. I had to explain in detail why I was trying to send money to a country which is not my home country.

They are also stuck in a technology time warp. You cannot use a Mac to access your company account online. I keep an old Windows PC just for accessing the bank account!

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@Joe Yan

"If you hate it so much, you can change banks."

What did you think I did? I switched such services to Sumitomo, after I eventually learned about the MUFG blocking my payments from my clients, because, well as I explained, MUFG never informed me.

Sadly, my NISA is with MUFG and transferring that account to another provider appears to be a hassle, if not impossible.

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they used to block my overseas clients payments to my account because the foreign clients didn't render my name in the correct katana. Naturally, the bank never notified me when this happened.

The bank that was making the outward remittance notified the sender, not you. The receiver does not get a notification for an error or mistake. If you hate it so much, you can change banks.

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MUFG now use the TV Service Rep in their branches -

Yes this is the nonsense I was talking about above

Reasonably smooth, if you have all the info to hand.

?!?!?!?! what ?!?!?!

I felt like it was a police interrogation, I waited an hour, talked for an hour and still was not able to send a measly $4000.

If I was a drug dealer believe me I would not be sending $4000! Try triple that figure... In any case, rather than be interrogated and humiliated any longer (they even asked me my relatives in America and where my sister's husband's family lives?? What?) I just made a money order and sent it in a magazine.

Complete nonsense

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The banks here seemed determined to make things as difficult as possible for their "customers."

Part of the difficulties some of us have experienced come from changes to laws that attempt to clamp down on money laundering (there is a lot of it, and not just by the yaks but also by foreign criminal gangs), though given the byzantine Japanese banking system you'd wonder why the crooks would bother.

A few months ago I foolishly went into my local MUFG branch to open a second account, and the lady behind the counter looked at me like I was from Mars. No, sir, you can't open a second account here. Why? Well, (indecipherable something about government and bank rules). You can just go in next to to SMBC and open one there. It's just the rules.

She was nice enough about it, and there was nothing she could do about it. But in the words of Jack Nicholson, the who freakin' system's out of order. J-Banks just seem determined to shed customers and go broke. During the 80s they were some of the biggest banks in the world. Imagine how successful they could've been if there'd been even a basic modicum of efficiency!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

MUFG now use the TV Service Rep in their branches - terebi madoguchi - as only the largest banks can do international transfers - it usually takes around 45 minutes. They always complain about lack of info, but their application form only allows 35 characters. Reasonably smooth, if you have all the info to hand.

Bank of Yokohama are now asking for contracts and estimates everytime I receive an overseas transfer as evidence. They ring up everytime to ask what the money is for. Time to stop using them.

When I received a payment from TransferWise, I was also called in to explain the transfer, apparently Japan Central Bank were asking. They even questioned why I received payent in JP Yen - avoiding currency exchange risks!

For a country trying to increase it's role in 'International Business' and attract companies here, it is sure shooting itself in the foot.

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Anyone uses WorldRemit? Any good?

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Never, ever assume that common sense will be used in any transaction in Japan. There is no doubt that they want to use common sense and have plenty of it..... but Japanese managers are a bunch of inflexible wimps that are unwilling to accept any responsibility.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

An employer years ago asked me what my name was in kana as registered for my bank account. I said it wasn't as I had never registered it in kana but only in romaji. They asked me to check with the bank. I discovered that my account had been registered with every possible kana spelling that they you think of, which seemed a surprisingly intelligent solution.

I recently had a minor problem when an international transfer was sent to me using my middle name as well as my other two. My account was registered with surname and one given name as when I opened the account, only one given name was generally accepted although at other banks the name I use and my middle name have been merged into one.

Interestingly, I used to have a Fuji bank card on which my given name was J0hn, the second letter being a zero not a capital.

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I tried to send $4000 from my MUFG account the other day, they sat me in a booth and interviewed me for an hour. Paperwork, address and phone number of recipient, then my MY NUMBER card.... It was ridiculous so I just walked out and made a postal money order...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I long ago got tired of jumping through hoops to transact anything in a Japanese bank, so I got my brother in the US to open a joint checking account. Unfortunately the US bank is pretty lousy too, but it gets the job done. It's a case of never the twain...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I never knew I could send money abroad by walking in with cash. That is amazing.

The more strict identification practices are a good thing. Since banking here, if I lost my hanko, I can’t do anything in a bank until I get a new one and update the hanko. But if I don’t have an form of identification except the hanko, I am allowed to do everything.

For the banks that don’t require a hanko, signing for anything is a complete pain because your signature needs to match 100%. If it doesn’t, then you have to keep signing

While a hanko isn’t mandated by the government, banks here chose to make it a necessity. I’ve learned Japanese banks don’t necessarily care about a profit. Partly because they have large deposit amounts on hand due to the savings practices of people and the companies here.

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Or you can do it with bitcoin, if the person on the other end has a wallet. You'll still pay some fees, but nothing like the bank fees. And it will be faster too.

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Remit 25 bucks? I never had to, but I would send it by EMS and hope for the best. It’s illegal, but what illegal activity are you going to do with 25 bucks. Or, you can go to the post-office, where they handle overseas bank remittances for a 2,800 Yen fee. Or, at the post-office you can pay into an overseas bank account by ATM with your credit card and there are probably other places where you can pay like this. Or, at the same post-office, you can send money by ‘international money order’ (pay/collect at a post-office), for a 2,500 Yen fee I believe.

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MUFG Bank will also ask more detailed questions when a customer opens a new account, such as the purpose of doing so

WOW. Talk about a curve ball of a "detailed question" there! I wonder what proof do they have that led them to  beef up steps to prevent illicit trading like "terrorist financing"?

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@JeffLee - This is good, because MUFG is the most administratively incompetent institution I've ever encountered.

Closely followed by Mizuho. It is not a coincidence they are the two banks mentioned in the article.

Yeah, I have to agree about Japanese banking being very primitive. It's only a decade ago that you couldn't withdraw money from an ATM after 6pm from most banks. Furthermore, there is still no such thing as direct debit in Japanese stores or taxis. Australia has had direct debit in taxis for over 30 years and 99% of shops also have direct debit.

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MUFG Bank to end over-the-counter int'l cash transfers to combat crime

Instead they will move it under-the-counter. So business as usual. This is just for show, im sure they will continue doing business some way or another.

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"is beefing up such steps in response to growing international calls for preventing illicit trading including terrorist financing, the sources said"

I think the above pretty much says it all, so I really can't blame the bank for its moves since it is following "growing international calls" not internal calls. Did I miss something?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

MUFG Made me wait 24hours before I could try tansfering again as MY signature was not matching.... Even though I had all my I.D. yes I moved bank. Also endorse Transferwise.

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MUFG was going to charge me 5,000 yen to send $25 to the US. I said bullocks to that and I'm not even English.

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they used to block my overseas clients payments to my account because the foreign clients didn't render my name in the correct katana. Naturally, the bank never notified me when this happened.

Had the same thing happen here locally with my paycheck, the BANK made the mistake of entering the kana incorrectly when they registered the account, and when I showed then the receipt I was given after making the account, they refused to make the change, and told be to make a new account.

Or, you could change banks.

That's what I did!

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My long-time bank but their fees for international transfers were ridiculous anyway, at least for personal banking, sending money to/from my US accounts. I second the plug for Transferwise. That said, the MUFG staff I've encountered have always been helpful and courteous. For business purposes, I have no idea.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

MUFG should discontinue all services that require from its staff a modicum of intelligence and common sense, for the sake of its suffering clients.

Or, you could change banks.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

This is good, because MUFG is the most administratively incompetent institution I've ever encountered. In just one of many examples, they used to block my overseas clients payments to my account because the foreign clients didn't render my name in the correct katana. Naturally, the bank never notified me when this happened.

MUFG should discontinue all services that require from its staff a modicum of intelligence and common sense, for the sake of its suffering clients.

23 ( +27 / -4 )

Problem is if people have to open an account, and get a colostomy in the process I think MUFG is going to lose some customers. But they don't care.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Just use TransferWise.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

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