Sony Bank, Inc. (ソニーバンク, ソニー銀行) is a Japanese commercial bank established in April 2001. It has no physical branches or ATMs; all procedures are done online or by telephone. It is a subsidiary of Sony Financial Holdings and a member of the Sony Group. The Sony Group is considering extending this subsidiary into and updating for the Australian market. Foreign currency deposits, investment trust, and home loans make up the bulk of transactions.
A reduction in regulations encouraged a number of companies to enter the banking sector for the first time.
Sony faced challenges as it began Sony Bank. In 2001, when Sony Bank was founded, Web use was limited in Japan as compared with the United States. Only 24 million people used the Internet every month at that time. Still, the company remained hopeful that infrastructure would improve. Sony claimed its move into banking went hand-in-hand with its shift from a manufacturing focus to a focus on content such as films and music.
Sony announced its new banking unit in March 2000. The bank started doing business on June 11, 2001. The company began with ¥37.5 billion of capital. It had around 80 employees at the time. It added 340 online accounts during its first hour of operation. At the time, the company offered yen-deposit accounts, investment trusts, card loans, and bank payments. It hoped to expand into foreign currency deposit accounts, credit cards, and housing loans by 2002. It also hoped to allow its customers to use automated teller machines from the Japan Post.
In 2001, Sony Bank hoped to accumulate 400,000 customers by 2004. In February 2001, the company had hoped to accumulate $5.2 billion in deposits; it adjusted that figure downward to $4.1 billion in deposits three months later. In February 2001, the company aimed to gain $8.6 billion in deposits by 2006. Analysts at the time were generally upbeat about the prospects for the bank. Raymond H. Graber of TowerGroup suggested the bank could synergize with the other operations of Sony Financial. Still, Paul Jamieson of Gomez Advisors warned that customers would have high expectations for Sony Bank, given Sony's existing reputation for the ease of use and elegant design of its products.
Upon the bank's founding in 2001, JP Morgan Chase owned a 4% stake in the company. JP Morgan had hoped to expand its asset and wealth management services in Japan. The company reduced its ownership to 3.2% by 2005. It sold off its entire stake in 2005, claiming to have discussed the move with Sony in advance.
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