Sony online bank in Japan wins secure seal of approval


June 19 2002  

 Japan's first full-service internet bank has gained a secure seal of approval through BSI Japan.

Tokyo-based Sony Bank Inc, which opened its online doors in 2001, has achieved the international information security award BS 7799.

A subsidiary of the electronics giant, Sony Corporation, Sony Bank is the first lender in Japan to be set up by a non-financial company. The Sony Corporation already has a growing financial profile, with affiliates providing life assurance, general insurance and credit services. 

Masamichi Yoshimura, manager of BSI Management Systems Japan, said: "BS 7799 registration is widely regarded as the ultimate industry benchmark in information security, and Sony Bank must be congratulated for this achievement. This registration will boost confidence in its service and lessen customers concerns about revealing personal information for online transactions. Infosecurity registration is still relatively new in Japan. BSI registered the first ever firms here in 2001 - NTT Data Corporation, Mitsue-Links, and DNP Facility Service Company."

Internet banking is still in its infancy in Japan, with many people wary about conducting financial transactions online. Sony Bank aims to change all this, and to capitalise on its parent company's brand name to attract customers, providing them with competitively-priced services. The bank aims to have 400,000 customer accounts worth 600bn yen within three years, rising to 600,000 accounts, worth one trillion yen, in five years.

With ambitions to become more than just a place where customers deposit cash, the bank offers a 'MoneyKit' feature that allows users greater flexibility in dealing with their personal finances. Other services include yen deposit accounts and investment trusts, and its customers have access to a network of ATM machines operated by Sakura Bank. Sony Bank is also branching out into foreign currency deposit accounts, a credit card business and housing loans.

Sony has put 37.5bn yen ($305m) into the bank, which it is operating with partners Sakura Bank and US investment bank JP Morgan, who jointly own a 20% stake in the venture. Sony owns the remaining 80%.

BSI helps organisations get the most value from their management systems through registration to international standards by a process-driven auditing approach. In addition to registering firms to the information security standard, BSI registers organisations to standards covering the management of quality, environmental best practice, and occupational health and safety.