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


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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One of the things that struck me a very odd during my first visit to Japan in the 90s was it's archaic banking system forcing me to use cheques (which were phased out in 2002) to get cash due to a lack of ATMs I could use.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I tried sending a furikomi (of a fairly small amount) at a bank where I don't have an account (but the recipient did), and was forced to jump through hoops. The hilarious part came after I left the building and was chased down the street by one of the assistance-persons (with an armband), who said it was also necessary for me to write on the form the purpose of the money transfer. Yet every time the subject comes up in the news, the "it's me, send money" scammers have set yet another new record for amounts swindled from elderly people. It seems the only people involved in these transactions who are not paranoid are the swindling victims.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Reminds me of years ago before I had permanent status and had to go to immigration to renew my visa.

On at least the first 2 occasions I was asked to show my Aust bankbook - because I had stated I had X sum of money at hand. They were incredulous at the idea that I would have a bank account and no bankbook ( I did have an official printed Statement of Funds on both occasions).

I told them that most people(except elderly I think) don't have a bank book as it's all computerized and all is available for easy access. This was in the 90's.

But no - that wasn't good enough. So I had to borrow money from friends here to top up my Japanese account to prove I had funds. Then I showed them my Japanese bank book.

They were happy.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I've never heard of a "bank book" before today. Looked it up - sounds like an account register + passport + ATM card that is maintained by the bank, but we carry around?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thank you, Mizuho. I hope this snowballs across all the analogue-dependent petty processes we're all tortured by through sheer ignorance of how things can be.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Citibank, who were absorbed into SMBC, never had bank books, even in the 1990s, but accounts at MUFJ, regional banks such as Yokohama Bank, and the Post Office (Yuuchou Ginkou) all have one. Hard to do anything without one at these banks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I haven't seen a bank use a bank book (sometimes called a "passport") since the 1980s. US banks stopped using them over three decades ago. I was cleaning out some boxes of my long deceased parents stuff the other weekend and found one for my parents account. My wife is not young but I had to explain to her what it was. She had never seen one before. With debit cards they are useless anyway. I run a paper balance because I'm old school that way but most customers don't even do that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I never thought Japanese bank books were such a bother. I thought it more ironic that Japanese ATM's were so advanced in 1990. Still more useful and advanced than ATM's in the US now.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I havent used mine in more than 10 years, but sometimes you have to submit a copy. Fortunately, e-banking also allows you to download a copy of the bank book nowadays. And never forget the hanko you used when opening the account!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think the main benefit for Mizuho and other banks will occur when an account holder dies and his relatives cannot find a bank book to prove how much money he had. It is quite possible none of his relatives will know his password.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Welcome to the 1990s

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"We expect 70% of the new accounts to move to digital, which is expected to save us several billion yen."

Something tells me those savings won't be passed on to customers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sorry the paperless thing is way to dangerous.

Ok my view is that way because of something that happened a long time ago but could happen again.

When Mizuho was created by the merger of 3(?) Banks I had my main account in Daiichi, on the firsts day if the new bank and joining all the banks, My account was suddenly gone, sure I had a bank card, a bank book that I luckily updated the night just before the merger.

I went into my bank and they insisted I had no account or a long closed account until I produced my bank book updated just before closing time the day before.

It took nearly 4 months for them to finally retrieve my bank account, during that time all my automatic payments bounced, I had no access to my funds but I was smart enough to keep another account in a different bank for emergencies.

Never got an apology jus a " not our fault it was the IT contractor".

Had I not had an up to date bank book and just a card a ATM slips I feel I would have never seen my money again.

Now I was not the only person affected, it was widely reported in the news that thousands of accounts suddenly disappeared and it took months to clear up but those with up to date bank books got priority according to news reports at the time.

It is harder to delete hard physical proof than a digital file.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Antiquesaving@ I fully agree. I remember how terrified everyone was of their deposits being rendered unaccessible due to the "millennium bug" back in late December 1999, and how long lines formed at bank ATMs right up to the last working day of the year, so people could update entries in their passbooks (some I suppose long unused).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I like using the bank book. The online records only show the last 1 month of data. Customers are forced to either copy that information, or pay money to get older records.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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