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放宽投资限制 日本正式启动金融科技革命

国际资讯宏观货币监管与政策

放宽投资限制 日本正式启动金融科技革命

Japan looks to kickstart ‘fintech’ revolution by easing investment restrictions

日本是一个坐拥9万亿个人存款的发达经济体,但是在金融科技方面却远远落后于许多国家。为此,日本政府决定放宽投资限制,刺激本国金融科技发展。

造成日本金融科技发展止步不前的原因有很多,比如金融体系监管严格,低利率下获得信贷的可能性较高,创新金融需求较弱,国民投资习惯规避风险,而且相比于信用卡,日本人更习惯使用现金等等。

新兴的金融科技企业采用云数据控件和智能手机等一系列新兴渠道,为用户提供贷款、保险和支付服务。CB Insights数据显示,金融科技业务去年在中国的融资总量为27亿美元,印度为近15亿美元,而在美国更是高达74亿美元。

与之形成鲜明对比的是,2015年前9个月在日本的投资则仅仅只有4400万美元。

日本金融行业管理者希望能够放松对于金融企业的投资规定,并且希望虚拟货币交易所监管系统能够在5月通过议会决议,这也可以算是在日本这个全球第三大经济体系中进行金融科技革命的重要开端。

日本金融服务管理局高级官员Norio Sato表示:“法条的改变是第一步,但是不是我们的最终目标。金融科技必定会对金融服务产生巨大的影响。”

具体来说,这一改变将会允许银行们100%全额购买非金融企业股份,这样日本三大银行就可以在包含机器投资咨询和区块链(在比特币等数字货币背后的分散式总账科技)在内的多个金融科技服务领域展开深入合作。

三菱UFJ金融集团、瑞穂金融集团和三井住友金融集团已表示开始关注此类投资,而之前这三大集团都被限制只能持有5-15%的初创公司控股股权。

在疲软的贷款压力下,这些大型银行都看到了从金融科技中获利的机会,但是同样意识到了金融科技破坏传统商业模式的潜在危害。

游戏改变者

2014年,备受瞩目的Mt.Gox比特币交易所遭受黑客袭击,总共丢失了价值6亿5千万美元的数字货币,最终只能宣布破产倒闭。毫无前景可言的日本金融科技环境让很多企业家选择前往海外融资。

比特币服务提供商Zerobillbank公司创始人兼首席执行官Junichi Horiguchi去年在特拉维夫建立了他的初创企业。

他表示,包含巴克莱银行、谷歌和脸书在内的全球性银行和科技巨头都在以色列金融科技产业投下巨资,几乎每个月都有开放的创新性竞赛和孵化加速器计划。

矢野经济研究所的一份报告中显示,如果充分使用区块链等技术,日本的金融科技初创企业销售额可能在2020年能够超过5亿美元。

而FSA推进虚拟货币交易的发展的新规定,也将让日本成为第一个在国家层面规范比特币使用的国家。

Sato说:“日本先前对金融科技没有很大热情,但是这些新规的出台必将让我们收获全世界的关注。”

比特币交易所bitFlyer 公司创始人、CEO 以及日本数字资产当局(一个游说组织)领导人Yuzo Kano表示,比特币行业的企业家们往往对投资增长有依赖性,他们希望有清晰的规定并将在近期迎来新的变化。此外他还认为,FSA此次起草法规的速度之快令人惊讶,但也让大家看到了未来日本金融科技发展的光明前景。

 

A laggard in embracing the 'fintech', or financial technology, revolution, Japan is set to ease investment restrictions that could free up the flow of capital in an economy sitting on an estimated $9 trillion in individuals' cash deposits.

Strict regulation, easy access to credit due to rock-bottom interest rates, and weak demand for innovative financial services from a risk-averse population that still prefers cash to credit cards, have strangled fintech's advance in Japan.

Fintech ventures - usually start-ups leveraging technology from cloud data storage to smartphones to provide loans, insurance and payment services - raised $2.7 billion in China last year, and over $1.5 billion in India, according to CB Insights data. Ventures in the United States attracted investment of around $7.4 billion.

In comparison, investment in Japanese ventures reached only around $44 million in the first nine months of 2015.

Now, Japan's financial industry regulator hopes relaxed rules on investing in financial ventures, and a new system for regulating virtual currency exchanges will pass through parliament by May - a first step in kickstarting the fintech revolution in the world's third-biggest economy.

"The law changes aren't a goal, but a first step," Norio Sato, a senior official at the Financial Services Authority (FSA), told Reuters. "Fintech will have a big impact on financial services."

The changes, which will allow banks to buy stakes of up to 100 percent in non-finance-related firms, will free up Japan's three megabanks to enter into tie-ups with fintech ventures developing services including robotic investment advisory and blockchain, the decentralized ledger technology behind the bitcoin digital currency.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Mizuho Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group have said they are eyeing such investments, having previously been restricted to holding stakes of only 5-15 percent in start-ups.

Under pressure from weak loan demand, the megabanks see an opportunity to earn money through fintech, but are also aware of its potential to disrupt traditional business models.

Game changer

The unpromising fintech environment in Japan - which was blindsided by the high-profile collapse of the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange in 2014 when hackers stole an estimated $650 million worth of the digital currency - has seen some entrepreneurs go overseas for funding.

Junichi Horiguchi, co-founder and CEO of bitcoin service provider Zerobillbank Ltd, established his start-up in Tel Aviv last year to take advantage of Israel's advanced technology industry.

Investment in fintech start-ups by global banks and tech giants including Barclays, Google and Facebook is far more common in Israel than in Japan, he said.

"It's completely different over there," Horiguchi told Reuters. "Every month there are open innovation contests and (start-up) accelerator program."

Sales at Japan's fintech start-ups could jump to over half a billion dollars by 2020 as the use of technology such as blockchain increases, Yano Research Institute said in a report.

The new rules the FSA is promoting on virtual currency exchanges could make Japan one of the first countries to regulate bitcoin at a national level.

"Japan hasn't previously been enthusiastic about fintech," said Sato. "But creating these rules this fast could gain the world's attention."

Bitcoin entrepreneurs, often reliant on investment for growth, have called for clearer regulation and will welcome the latest changes, said Yuzo Kano, founder and CEO of bitcoin exchange bitFlyer Inc, and head of the Japan Authority for Digital Assets, a lobbying group.

"The establishment of the law is extremely surprising," Kano said, referring to how quickly the FSA had drafted the law. "It's set to be very successful."

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