Lawson Japan mulls banking foray

Convenience store operator Lawson Japan is considering a foray into banking.

The company says that with more than 12,000 convenience stores operating across Japan it has the physical branch network in place to accept deposits from customers.

It also has the IT infrastructure in place which could be easily modified to allow customers to pay bills, make bank transfers and other basic banking services – all of which would draw additional customers in store, or increase the frequency of visits of existing customers.

underlying the seriousness of the planning, Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group has indicated it would take a small stake in the new bank, and contribute ATMs, IT and other services to a Lawson Bank.

If Lawson does move into banking, it would not be Japan’s first retailer to do so. Rivel Seven & I Holdings, parent of 7-Eleven, established a bank in 2001. Aeon received a banking licence in 2007 and has since expanded its banking and financial services into other markets such as Malaysia and Thailand.

Another c-store operator, FamilyMart last year began exploring a banking partnership with Japan Net Bank, although those discussions have not yet born a finite plan.

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