Ridiculousness of preaching DXing to clients by phone and fax… “Still no email” too cold digital situation for bankers. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ridiculousness of preaching DXing to clients by phone and fax… “Still no email” too cold digital situation for bankers.

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE

No “e-mail address” on business cards nowadays!

With the rapid progress of digitization, banks are also seeing the emergence of online banking and smartphone applications, and sales staff are using tablet terminals when meeting with customers.

However, some banks and credit unions still do not have personal e-mail addresses, and telephone and fax communication with customers is still the norm.

In the course of my work, I have the opportunity to exchange business cards with many people, and of course, most business cards, including those of general companies and self-employed sole proprietors, include a phone number and e-mail address.

However, aside from megabanks, regional financial institutions such as regional banks, shinkin banks, and credit unions often do not include an e-mail address on their business cards. Even in the rare cases where they do, it is not a personal e-mail address, but rather the e-mail address of the entire branch or department. While there is a phone number, it is often a representative phone number.

Some banks prohibit e-mail contact with customers in the first place, or “receiving e-mail from customers is fine, but sending e-mail to customers requires approval from a supervisor,” according to a 40-something worker at the headquarters of a regional bank in western Japan.

According to a survey conducted by the Financial Services Agency (December 2008), a surprising 90% of regional financial institutions (455 institutions) “do not maintain e-mail addresses covering the number of sales representatives” (Photo: Image: AFRO)

90% of regional financial institutions do not have individual email addresses

In the age of Reiwa, when social networking services have begun to be disseminated even in the imperial household, how in the world do they work without an e-mail address? When we were curious to find out, the numbers seemed to support the answer.

According to a survey conducted by the Financial Services Agency (December 2020), a surprising 90% of regional financial institutions (455 institutions) “do not have email addresses to cover the number of sales representatives. (Source: “Progress Report on Financial Intermediary Functions,” July 2021).

Among corporate sales representatives, 36.2% of the time at regional and second-tier regional banks and 33.7% at shinkin banks and others was spent processing loan paperwork (Source: Survey of 542 people at financial institutions who are currently or have been involved in “corporate loan operations” in the past 10 years / nCino, May 2022)

Half a day is lost in analog correspondence.

In this day and age of “contact by e-mail so as not to disturb the other party as much as possible,” if e-mail is not available, communication is either by phone or in person.

However, if only the representative phone number is listed on the business card, for example, the phone goes to voicemail after 5:00 p.m. and the person in charge cannot be reached. This is inefficient and time-consuming for both the customer and the representative.

One customer laments, “I have to spend half a day just to tell the person in charge about my requirements in an analog manner.

It is even more difficult when exchanging loan documents and monthly reports. Normally, it would be a simple matter to send an Excel sheet or PDF file as an attachment by e-mail, but since e-mail is not available, the choice is to send the documents by fax, mail, or even bring them to the sales branch. Some companies and private homes today have never used a fax machine or don’t even have a fax machine itself.

Some companies and private homes have never used fax machines, or do not even have fax machines. I really don’t want to deal with banks,” said the aforementioned president.

Although online conferencing, including Zoom and Teams, has been established at the COVID-19 crisis through business terminals at sales branches, there are no e-mail addresses, or e-mailing to customers is prohibited, so access codes are exchanged by phone or fax, which is a bit cumbersome.

Connection to the Internet is also restricted.

In addition to having no e-mail address and being prohibited from sending e-mails, the bank’s connection to the Internet is actually restricted as well. At some bank branches, desk PCs and other business terminals do not have Internet access. In order to use the Internet, one has to get up from his/her seat and use a dedicated terminal next to the desk of the branch manager or other senior manager.

In fact, according to the FSA survey mentioned above, 53% (266 institutions) of all regional financial institutions do not have enough Internet access terminals to cover the number of sales representatives.

In this day and age, one can quickly search for anything on the train or on the street with a smartphone, but one has to go all the way to a dedicated terminal next to one’s boss to look things up, so “I would never use it unless I had a lot of time” (a regional bank sales office employee in eastern Japan in his 30s).

Smartphones are indispensable in today’s business world, but…

Private smartphones should be put away in a locker.

With no personal e-mail address, no e-mailing allowed, and Internet searches restricted, how are private smartphones and tablets handled? At some banks, private smartphones and tablets are kept in lockers during work hours, and private smartphones are not allowed during work, except during lunch breaks.

Of course, many banks, no longer able to resist the trend toward digitalization, allow private use of smartphones and tacitly permit their use during work periods. There are also many banks and credit unions that allow smartphone use without censure, even though it is prohibited. It is a Japanese world of “honne” and “tatemae.” In reality, not only e-mail, but also LINE and SNS are being used on personal smartphones to communicate with customers without permission. The result is extremely sloppy and high-risk.

In any case, at some banks and credit unions, personal smartphones are not allowed, there are no personal e-mail addresses, e-mail use with customers is prohibited, there is no single PC for each person, and Internet access is only available by going to the seat of a superior. Documents are delivered by mail, fax, or in person, creating an outdated, dystopian world.

It would be unthinkable in any other industry, but it’s amazing that the business is running the way it is,” said the banker. Is it because it is a business of the highest order?

Why the ban on sending e-mails?

Banks, which place the highest priority on trust, store a great deal of personal information, including deposits and outstanding loans, and they are required to strictly manage customer information, not to mention confidentiality obligations.

In addition to responding to information security and cyber security risks, such as erroneous e-mail transmissions and virus infection, the bank is also prepared for the risk of information leakage due to misconduct by bank employees. To prevent the leakage of customer information and confidential information in the unlikely event of such an incident, the bank strictly enforces the use of e-mail and SNS, the bringing of smartphones and Internet The company strictly enforces the use of e-mail and social networking services, smartphones, and Internet access to prevent customer information and confidential information from being leaked.

The ridiculousness of “DX-ization” proposals by phone and fax

Recently, DX and IT are booming among banks and credit unions. Not only are they themselves competing with each other in promoting DX and IT in their operations, but they are also aggressively proposing DX to their business partners, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which have been slow to digitalize their operations.

However, as we have seen, the banks themselves are in a situation where they do not even have e-mail addresses or the ability to search the Internet, let alone promote DX. A self-employed person in his 40s in the Kanto region who has business with a local bank laughs, “The proposal for promoting DX was sent by fax after a phone call, not by e-mail. If banks have the same customer and profit perspective as ordinary companies, they should be more proactive in using e-mail addresses and the Internet.

In the age of Reiwa’s digitalization, banks and credit unions will have a difficult future if they do not even provide their sales representatives with e-mail addresses.

The top issues in promoting DX are “Difficulty in changing or modifying existing business processes and systems,” “Lack of knowledge of digitalization and DX,” and “Lack of personnel to promote DX…” (from the same survey)
  • Interview and text by Katsuhide Takahashi

    Born in Gifu Prefecture in 1969, Katsuhide Takahashi graduated from Keio University in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in economics and received a master's degree in economics from the Graduate School of International Political Science and Economics, Aoyama Gakuin University in 2000. After working at Mitsubishi Bank and Citigroup Securities, he established his own company in 2013. His publications include "Ginko Zero Jidai" (Asahi Shimbun Publications), "Why Niseko Only Became a World Resort" (Kodansha +α Shinsho), and "Jibin Nissei" (The Extinction of Regional Banks) (Heibonsha).

  • Photo Afro

Photo Gallery4 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles