• Shiori W

How can working remotely be accepted among Japanese Companies? - Vol.2 The Finance Industry

Have you ever been to a Japanese bank?

Do you think that banks are willing and able to implement teleworking?


On May, 2nd, 2020, the Mainichi newspaper announced that the number of people in Japan who went to banks increased despite the emergency declaration that was put into place because of the covid-19 virus.


The article gave some reasons for this phenomenon -


One customer stated that "I'd like to exchange my damaged or old bills. I found while cleaning my house, for new ones." Another stated "I came because I had time and I wanted to consult with the bank about my assets." - Customers continue to go to banks mainly for reasons such as this, even after the government announced the emergency declaration on April 7th.

People seem to have more time now because some are working from home while others have been temporarily furloughed. Because of these changes amid the covid-19 pandemic, people have more time at home.

According to one Japanese bank, one customer wanted to exchange his/her bills to new ones because they feared that the bills might have been infected by the covid-19 virus.

「大掃除で破れたお札や古いお札が見つかったので交換してほしい」「時間ができたので資産運用の相談に来てみた」。政府が4月7日に緊急事態宣言を発令した後、こうした理由で銀行の支店を訪れる客が後を絶たない。大手行によると「このお札はコロナウイルスが付着している可能性がある。交換してほしい」と要求されるケースもあったという。- The original sentences in Japanese.

On April 23rd, 2020, the Yomiuri newspaper reported that, according to the SMBC bank, the total number of customers who visited to their branches on April decreased by 15%, compared to the number of people who visited in February. Around 30% of SMBC bank branches, however saw and increase in customers.

The number of visitors who visited banks mainly increased in residential areas. In Kawasaki city, there is a branch whose the number of visitors increased by 25%.

The referenced article here

 三井住友銀行では、4月の1日あたりの全体の来店者数は2月に比べて15%減少したものの、約3割の支店では増えた。増加は住宅地にある支店が中心で、川崎市では来店者が25%以上増えた支店もあった。 - The original sentences in Japanese.

According to the Yomiuri newspaper, people went to banks for nonessential reasons such as exchanging old bills for new ones or to to buy memorial coins because they had more time.

One branch manager said that there is a difference in understanding between the banks and the general public as to what is considered essential business.

ある銀行では、在宅勤務で時間に余裕ができたため、古い貨幣や記念硬貨の両替のために訪れたケースもあったという。大手行の支店長は「銀行と顧客との間に、不要不急かどうかの判断に違いがある」と嘆く。 - The original sentences in Japanese.

Why do people go out when they have more time during a state of emergency?

Have you ever been to a Japanese bank?

If you go to a bank on certain days, you will see a lot of people waiting and sitting around until they are called.

Other people who are there might be who work in accounting at companies who are there to prepare payments.

CEOs there as well who are applying for loans or subsidies.

In Japan, for a lot of banking needs such as loans, there is a lot that needs to be done in person and require a personal seal.

Japanese people cannot apply online for many things and need to go to a branch of the bank.

Personal seal culture is still alive here.

Many things at banks still require physical documents and one's personal seal which means banks still need people to go to branch locations. Since covid-19 has been destroying the finances of many companies, there have been hundreds of applications for the national subsidies and loans. Banks have to decrease the number of staff at each bank in order to reduce the chance of infection among their employees. However, the number of applications for subsidies and loans from companies are increasing and people still go continue to go to banks for trivial reasons such as exchanging old bills...


Trust in cash makes people to go to banks, and the seal culture makes CEOs go to branches.

As many know, the rate of people using cashless services is still only around 20% in Japan. Compared to other countries such as the republic of Korea, whose rate is around 96%, Japan is very far behind. Especially among elderly people, Japanese people tend to use cash. In the April, 28th, 2020 edition of the Asahi newspaper, they interviewed a 76 year old woman who said she goes to the bank to withdraw her pension in cash because she doesn't feel comfortable using cashless service. She says that at her age, having cash gives her peace of mind.

The referenced articles : ( The Meti's report regarding the usage rate of cashless service announced in 2020, January ) ( The Asahi newspaper's article )

冒頭の東中野支店に年金を下ろしに来たという79歳の女性は「キャッシュレスには抵抗がある。歳を取ると現金が一番安心する」と話した。
- The Original sentences in Japanese.

- Is cash really more reliable and safer than cashless services?

- Do we really need to use personal seals instead of signatures?


These are the main reasons that why banks can't conduct business without having physical locations.

During this state of emergency and financial crisis, banks need to devote resources to support businesses rather than completing nonessential tasks for individuals.


Even with the state of emergency in effect, many people do not think that going to a bank for nonessential business is a problem.

Zenginkyo, the association of Japanese banks, acting as a representative of the finance industry, put out ads in major newspapers urging customers to not go to banks if not necessary or to avoid peak times, to maintain social distance, and to wear masks if they must go.

You can check the advertisement here.

I hope many elderly people read this advertisement before they decide to go to a bank.


Japanese Banks can't change the need for personal seals ingrained in Japanese culture or the peace of mind that cash provides to Japanese people.


- What do you think?

Do you think banks will be able to allow teleworking in the future? The reliance on cash in Japan may lead to an increase in the number of infections and the need for a personal seal to sign something may cause people to leave their homes.


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