Tokyo is not only the capital of modern era Japan, but also a thriving financial centre which is transforming itself into a start-up friendly location, particularly in new areas such as FinTech.
Tokyo packs a big punch economically: it is the capital city of the third largest economy in the world and it has a greater GDP than rival global cities New York and London. With its amazing infrastructure, Tokyo offers a natural springboard for foreign companies to enter the affluent Japanese market.
The FinTech ecosystem is well served, both at the industry, government and grassroot level:
The FinTech Association of Japan (“FJA”) is an industry-wide body based in Tokyo that represents Japan’s leading FinTech companies and which actively promotes dialogue with established financial services companies. Following the April 2017 amendment to the Banking Act, Japanese banks are required to provide access to their data to third parties, similar to the European Union’s Payment System Directive 2. An area of particular note relates to FJA’s effort to work on a open API platform with Japan’s incumbent banks.
The local government has also been incredibly supportive of the local FinTech ecosystem. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (“TMG”) has been running a FinTech accelerator program: The FinTech Business Camp Tokyo. TMG’s program allows a handful of foreign start-ups to come to Tokyo and enjoy thorough mentoring support and introductions to established Japanese financial companies culminating with a final pitch-event. The program is supported by TMG’s TOSBEC, a support centre for foreign companies wanting to set up, or expand their, business in Japan. TOSBEC also has a team specialized in supporting foreign financial services companies: The Financial One-Stop Support Service. In parallel to its focus on FinTech, TMG also runs a broader accelerator program focused on technology companies: The New Tech Business Camp.
Last but not least, the Tokyo FinTech scene is supported by a strong grassroots effort, with meetups and local associations focusing on various aspects of FinTech and blockchain technology in particular. The most active community is managed by the Tokyo FinTech Association, with currently over 1,600 members and bi-monthly events. There are also several incubators with a strong FinTech focus, the most notable being Finolab in Otemachi which houses several FinTech start-ups.
In conclusion, Tokyo truly offers a vibrant FinTech eco-system with strong support from all its constituent parts and offers start-ups a great entry into the Japanese market.
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