Chisato Nakamura, manager at DX Division, au Jibun Bank Corporation, talks about the importance of supporting investors along their journey and how the bank does that.
In Japan, like elsewhere, interest in self-investing has risen in recent years, the number of accounts at three major Japanese internet securities firms, as of November 2021, have increased 25% year on year as people increasingly seek to manage their own investments. And with savings and deposits accounting for 54.3% of assets in 2021, according to the Bank of Japan, the opportunity is huge.
The drivers behind this are multiple; a bull market environment; coronavirus financial aid programs; DX within the securities services industry using smartphones; and the NISA (ISA equivalent) offering preferential tax treatments for individual investors.
But novice investors have different needs to experienced ones and this is why the Forex app has come into being.
Chisato Nakamura, manager at DX Division, au Jibun Bank Corporation, explains: “Our current forex app, released in 2018, was mostly tailored to intermediate/high-level forex players. But we saw a need for something to meet the needs of new investors. They need investment tips and walking through the whole process, so we’ve created a front-to-back experience to partner with such investors and guide them along the way.”
But before users get into a real-life trading environment, the bank offers two services intended to educate and offer users the chance to gain valuable experience.
The Demo Trading function, which is web-based content, allows users to play around with a virtual fund of up to JPY 500,000 (£3,200). “This gives users the experience what forex trading is, and how it feels like to earn and lose money as a pre-cursor to opening an account and doing it for real,” says Nakamura.
Forex Manga, meanwhile, is also web-based and provides free content with the aim of providing knowledge, tips and experience around forex trading and investments.
“The Manga function features au Jibun Bank’s original Samurai characters who are the leading figures from 15th to 16th century in Japanese ‘Sengoku’ period,” says Nakamura.
“We use Manga as one of our important marketing contents. This is quite rare in the market and although it might come over as too informal for some, it is actually a great educational tool and is a great way to make something fun as well as educational,” she adds.
Once customers have gained a certain amount of experience the idea is that they open an account and start trading. The bank has catered for these novice investors with a Forex Simple Mode.
This is a simpler version of the standard app – albeit retaining many of the rich features of the standard mode. Users can choose between two levels; this means that au Jibun Bank can offer best UX to every user, at any level of investment activity.
“Forex Simple Mode intentionally does feature all the functions of the offering for more experienced investors. It only features those basic functions which investment beginners should be familiar with as their first step,” says Nakamura.
In particular Forex Simple Mode places graphical charts at the centre of the app screen for maximum visual impact, it also has navigational assistance to show users what to do next. In addition, detailed explanatory pop-ups for technical terms are available.
The service took seven months to develop and was launched at the end of March last year.
Nakamura comments: “The aim has always been to support a customer’s investment journey to get an easy-start and to find investment activities enjoyable. In particular the barriers to entry are high and so we aim to support the customer journey from the very beginning with the means to learn about forex without having to go as far an opening an account.”
Success can be measured by its first take-up. “The Demo Trading and Forex Simple Mode were launched at the end of March 2021. By the end of June 2021, more than 1,200 users had opened forex accounts at the bank.
“And more than 32,000 users had used Demo Trading, 70% of users were coming from the auPAY channel, which is the payment app of the bank’s broader group,” says Nakamura.
Au Jibun is jointly funded by KDDI, the second largest telco in Japan, and MUFG Bank, the largest commercial bank in Japan.
For this year and onwards, one of the plans is to update the app’s UI to offer better customer experience with the aim of continuing the education piece as the user’s experience progresses.
“It’s a companionship ethos,” says Nakamura. “Jibun Bank means ‘My Bank’ in local language. We want to support people to start thinking about building their assets for their future and have a better understanding what is out there and what is possible.
“This long-term, educational support underscores our core ethos of being a lifetime companion to customers. It’s something we are very proud of.”
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