Japan’s largest fintech summit FIN/SUM2023 was held from March 28 to 31, sponsored by Nikkei and the Financial Services Agency. The final day featured a pitch competition, where ten domestic and international companies competed by presenting their business models and future prospects.
The “Nikkei Award” for the best company was won by Caulis, which offers security services for financial institutions. The company collaborates with financial institutions and power companies to provide services for identifying fictitious accounts, detecting unauthorized access, and preventing money laundering.
Its unique method of cross-checking data from power companies, including active power equipment information from all over Japan, with information such as addresses and financial account information, was lauded for improving the accuracy of fraud detection. Caulis has already achieved stable profitability.
Other promising startups that advanced to the final round of the pitch contest include:
- Aruyaumu – collaborates with local governments to create NFTs and provide them as return gifts for “furusato” tax donations, which allow people to donate their taxes to their favorite municipalities. The company is expected to thrive in Japan, where the use of NFTs for regional revitalization is gaining momentum.
- Payment Technology – a service that automatically distributes and transfers employees’ salaries to digital wallets or securities accounts other than specified banks, in response to the recent increase in digital money circulation in Japan.
- Paytner – a service that automates invoicing, digitization, storage, and transfer, with the particular feature of being able to automatically make transfers. It is expected to alleviate the burden of accounting tasks, especially for small businesses.
- Kiva – provides an “extended warranty service” for e-commerce (EC) businesses to encourage users to purchase goods with peace of mind. This initiative is receiving attention as an effective measure to promote more purchases on EC sites, particularly in regions where consumers are not yet used to purchasing online. The enrolment rate of users has exceeded 30%.
- efit – a platform for asset management that enables sophisticated investment strategies using AI and robots. In Japan, where the savings rate is already high, policies and measures are strongly promoting a shift from saving to investment.
- LUCA Japan – operates a digital platform business to spread alternative investments to more investors. The company has entered into a strategic partnership with Singaporean company Xen Capital and is developing products for the Japanese market.
- SJ Mobile Lab Japan (Singapore) – provides financial services such as payment, savings, investment, and insurance through advice based on customer perspectives and carefully selected products.
- G-Bank Technologies (Estonia) – offers a platform that provides multi-language and mobile financial services to foreign talent living in Japan who struggle with language barriers. The founder himself is a foreigner and aims to change the inconvenience of Japan’s financial services. The company has already progressed with API cooperation with major banks.
- Futurae (Switzerland) – founded by security researchers from ETH Zurich who use the latest technology to provide services such as security improvement and customer analysis.
Fintech startups in Japan that receive high praise tend to focus on areas such as asset management support, business digitization, security, and e-commerce-related services. Interestingly, these happen to be the same areas where Southeast Asian startups excel. Given the relatively small number of startups in Japan, more and more foreign startups are venturing into the country either independently or by partnering with local companies. This presents opportunities for Southeast Asian startups to also thrive in the Japanese market.