The Monday mindset: 24 April 2017
This week, Banking Technology’s deputy editor Antony Peyton looks at whether Japan’s rules rule.
If you’re a billionaire (which I assume isn’t all of you), then it’s going to be pretty easy just to move to another country. Plus, with all that wealth, the media are going to pay attention.
In a Bloomberg news report, billionaire Taizo Son has ditched Japan in “frustration” to start afresh in Singapore.
Son, who made his money with the smartphone game Puzzle & Dragons, has relocated to the city-state from Tokyo and plans to invest $100 million in Southeast Asia within five years. Some of that money will be going the way of fintech.
And the reason for this strop-styled hop? He’d become disheartened by regulations in Japan as well as the country’s education system.
Son says he “tried very hard by lobbying the Japanese government: ‘Why don’t we have a regulatory sandbox to bring some innovative ideas?’” but says Japan is “too big and very slow to move”.
He is also CEO of Mistletoe, a “combination of early-stage venture firm, incubator and entrepreneur-in-residence” programme. His brother Masayoshi Son is also chairman of SoftBank. So things are going to happen.
All this is great news for Singapore, but let’s not write Japan off just yet.
Fintech is doing well over there, despite Son’s jibes. Recent deals include a co-operation framework between Japan and Singapore; letters on co-operation with the UK; and a pilot implementation of a blockchain platform for payments.
And whatever your fintech plans in a country, you’re going to come into contact with the non-fintech world.
Let’s assume Son is right about Japan’s fintech regulations. But that doesn’t take into account all the other non-fintech rules that will form a big part of your life out there. I lived in Japan for five years and in comparison to the UK it is far more flexible and forthcoming to solutions on every level.
In Japan, people go out their way to help you. I was stunned at the service. It was like I’d landed on another planet.
Aside from family, friends and my work colleagues – no one has ever gone out their way to do a good job in the UK (at least to my experience). And I mean no one.
And despite appearances, the rules in Japan aren’t that strict. If you’re polite, use a bit of Japanese as a gesture, bow a bit, they’ll bend them as they want a compromise. My life was easier there than here. Bizarre really.
Has that level of helpfulness happened in the UK? No. “Not my job mate.”
Japan may not rank high in the fintech league of countries, but I have a sneaky suspicion Son will be flying back and forth between his new home to enjoy what he left behind.
There was no Monday mindset last week due to a UK public holiday, but two weeks ago the Moroccan fintech scene came under the spotlight.
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