Opening corporate / business bank account in Japan. Part 5: Sumishin SBI Bank

Final post (for now) on opening corporate / business bank account in Japan.

In the previous post, I wrote down some tips on what to prepare and what to do and not do when applying for a bank account in Japan.

In the final post, I would like to introduce the only bank account that I could make. Sumishin SBI bank. (well, I only applied to two. First was Rakuten bank and then after I got rejected, I applied to Sumishin SBI bank. Luckily for me, Sumishin SBI bank is one of the best online banks due to low fees and the easiness of opening a bank account.

Here are the reasons for recommending Sumishin SBI bank.

1) Easiness of opening the bank account
The difficulty of applying online is that you cannot sell yourself to the bank. You are mainly judged on the paperwork only. So for a newly created company, no matter how much income is expected, you are treated equally as everyone else.
The beauty of Sumishin SBI bank is that when they are unsure about your company, rather than rejecting it (which is what happens in most other banks), they will send you an email where you can explain what your business does in detail.
So if your business contents are building web page, you get a chance to show what website you have already made and how much you got paid.
If you have published a book or done interviews, this gives you the opportunity to showcase this.
It is great to be given an opportunity to explain what you do in sentences rather than bullet points in a business contents section.
Also, they accept mobile phone number!
Maybe the only negative is you seem to be rejected automatically if you use a virtual office address.

2) Service itself:

  • One of the lowest fees you can find (if not the lowest). If you are sending money to a Sumishin SBI bank account, the fee is 50 yen. If to any other banks, it will be 160-250 yen. Megabanks charge about 750 yen.
  • If you receive 10 payments into your bank account in one month, you can send money to other banks for free ten times in a month. Also if you spend more than 100,000 yen a month using their debit card, again you can send money free ten times a month. Depending on the type of business, these criteria are relatively easy to hit. And will save you 250 yen x 20 times = 5000 yen/month.
  • Fee for using an ATM is a flat rate of 110 yen. Which is cheap. For example, Rakuten bank, the use of ATM are 220 yen.
  • You can use most of the ATM that you see in town. Such as Seven Eleven, Family Mart, Lawson, Aeon, Post office ATMs. In most cases being able to use convenient store ATM should be enough.
  • If creating a bank account is successful, you can create a VISA or Mastercard Debit card without any screening. !00% guaranteed. And it is free!!!
  • VISA debit card will give you 0.6% cashback and Mastercard debit care will give you a 0.8% cashback. Which is reasonable. In comparison, Rakuten bank, their debit card will give you 1% cashback but will charge you 1,100 yen fee per year.

Well, I hope these series were useful!

Unfortunately, most applications will still need to be done in Japanese so if you would like any help, do reach out to us!

Opening corporate / business bank account in Japan. Part 4: Advice and tips on your application

So opening corporate / business bank accounts in Japan is hard. Super hard. This is the 4th in the series of posts. My previous post is here.

So what can we do, what should we be careful of when we apply to open a bank account? Let’s make sure we prepare carefully so that we can to give ourselves the best chance.

Here are my tips and advice from my personal experience:

  1. You have all the documents needed and filled in all the information correctly
    Let’s start with the basics. Its a no brainer but make sure everything they ask for is ready. Especially for online banks, as they cannot see you.
    If the documents are not prepared or information missing, then they may think you / your company are unreliable.
  2. Make sure the company seal is smooth
    For those of us usually using signature (or DocuSign these days…), using stamp or company seal feels odd. But it is what it is, let’s do it properly.
    Here are some examples. Make sure it is not blurred, bled, tilted.
  3. Check the application paper
    For online banks, you usually fill in the online form and need to print it (because you need the company seal) and send it off. I have a normal inkjet printer with paper from the 100 yen shop at home. So when I printed the forms, it’s not pretty like the laser-jet printer. But that should be OK. The problem I had was that when I put my company seal on it, the ink bled…
    Cutting cost is important but for bank applications, let’s get it printed properly. It will only be 5-10 yen per page (you can just print it in the convenient stores) so the application form should only cost you less than 100 yen. Its 100 yen well spent.
  4. Capital investment is reasonable
    As I have mentioned in the first post, you can now open the bank account with just 1 yen of capital investment. From the bank’s point of view, that’s not really showing much confidence in your own company.
    Capital investment is something you decide when you create the company so once its set, it is not simple to change it so for some it may be too late but reading different websites, they recommend you to have around 1,000,000 yen capital investment.
    I actually did not know this so my capital investment was 300,000 yen and I managed to open a bank account with Sumishin SBI bank so I guess it is case by case. But looking back, if I were to do it again, I would invest 1M JPY…
  5. Business content makes sense
    Similar to above, this is something you set when making the company so again may be too late but make sure it makes sense.
    The usual advice is to make sure it is detailed enough but don’t just randomly put anything in.
    For example, if your business content is just one line of “making homepages”, that’s too short… But if you have a laundry list of things that are unrelated like “making homepages”, “property investment”, “model”, “stock trader”, your bank will likely not have a clear image of what you do on a day to day basis…
    FYI, this is what I have as my business content.
    If you are unsure, you can ask some professional service to create one for you based on what you do. It will cost around 10,000 – 30,000 yen I think. So not too expensive.
  6. Create a homepage
    In this day and age, having a homepage is a must (in my opinion). Otherwise, the bank may think about how people are going to find out about you (especially if you do not have any physical store).
    I don’t think you need anything too professional. When I applied, I only had this page (literally one page only) and was fine so just set something up (or pay to get it created as better HP will leave a better impression).
    FYI, when I got rejected from Rakuten bank, I was checking the site visitors (I can do this as I was not promoting my website so the only visitor was usually just me), and they never visited my site before rejecting me…
  7. Office address
    Nowadays, there are so many rental offices and virtual offices that you can have. And some are dead cheap.
    However, an application using a virtual office address will automatically be rejected when applying for bank accounts. Some banks are really clear about this so please check your bank before applying.
    To me, using office address sounds professional but I guess from the banks perspective, it means you could go missing anytime (for fraud etc).
    So using your home address is better. But if you are renting, make sure to check with your landlord (this is a difficult issue as a lot of landlords will say no and you have no choice but to use some virtual address…).
  8. Phone number
    Similar to the above, landlines are better than a mobile number. Trust, fraud, etc again.
    When I applied to the Rakuten bank, the application would show an error if you typed in a mobile number. For Sumishin SBI, in the application form, it mentions that you can use a mobile number so I used my mobile number and managed to create an account so again do research but usually, landlines are better.
    If you read around, I found an article that says Rakuten form says landline only but could type in the mobile number and this person managed to create an account and the other article I found said that Sumishin SBI specifically says no mobile number (with screenshots) so I guess policies change all the time. So make sure you check the latest policy!
  9. Do not be afraid to send additional information
    Do not be afraid to send in additional information that are not mentioned in the necessary documents. The bank wants to check to make sure you are legit so any additional information should be good.
    For example, if the homepage URL is not needed in the application form, just print out your homepage and include it. If you already have an invoice, include it to show that you are doing business.
  10. Never give up
    Finally, when applying, always assume the worst.
    Being rejected is a really bad feeling but expect this to happen and keep on applying to different banks. Each bank has different criteria (such as no virtual office address) so even if you get rejected from one, others may be more open.
    Also, you could re-apply once your business has taken off. For example, some banks (Rakuten bank is one), require less paperwork if you have been in business for more than 6 months.
    Never lose hope! Keep on applying.

So I hope this was helpful. In the next post, I will talk about my recommended online corporate / business bank. Well, I say “recommend” but this bank was the only one that I could create a bank account with. So as a thank you let me recommend it to the reader as well.

Opening corporate / business bank account in Japan. Part 3: receiving payment from overseas

So in the previous post, I talked through different types of bank accounts in Japan.

Now, which one should you go with?

If you are planning to get an investment in the future or want a name-value to your bank account, then go with the Mega Banks.

If you just need an account to operate (get payments, make payments), then go with either the online banks or Yucho bank as the fees are much cheaper.

No harm in having multiple bank accounts so some people will have one Mega Bank account for investment / reputation and an online bank for their usual use to save money on fees.

However, as I have mentioned in my previous post, Not all bank account accepts payment from abroad. So if you have plans to do business internationally, there are only a handful of options for you… Let me go through them…

Mega Banks: Mizuho, Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFJ), Mistuisumitomo (SMBC) bank etc
They all usually offer international service so if you are willing to pay the high fees, then they are your safe bets.

Online Banks: 
These are the tricky ones. Normal information homepage is usually for Japanese business partners so it is very hard to find information on international service. So I have sent an email to the customer service to check one by one… (please note, this data is as of the start of 2020, so please check for the latest information).

For Sumishin SBI, you would need to create a bank account in a foreign currency that you wish to receive payments in. But its really easy to set up and it takes a few seconds. Once you create your JPY bank account, log in, go to currency exchange and but one unit of the currency you wish to receive the payment in (e.g. exchange $1). Then you can start to receive the payment in that currency.

Note that although Rakuten and Sumishin SBI offers international service, they do not accept every single currency in the World. So please check the details un each bank.


Oh, and Yucho Bank accepted international payments up until March 2020 but has stopped. So they will not be an option for you either.

So for online banks, my recommendations are either Rakuten Bank or Sumishin SBI Bank.

In the next post, I will talk about some advice that I can give on the screening process that the banks will go through to determine if you can open the bank account in Japan

Opening corporate / business bank account in Japan. Part 2: what are the types?

In the previous post we spoke about why it is so (so) hard to open a corporate bank account in Japan.

In this post, I will talk about what options you have.

In general, there are two types of banks + 1. One that offers a physical bank branch and others that only exists online.

Physical banks can either be “Mega Banks”, which refers to banks that you see everywhere in Japan. Such as MizuhoMitsubishi UFJ (MUFJ), Mistuisumitomo (SMBC) bank. Others are more regional banks that tend to only exist around districts. Such as Yokohama bank that exists mainly in Yokohama and some in Tokyo.

Online banks do not have any physical stores. Popular ones are Rakuten, GMO Aozora, Japan Net, Sumishin SBI banks.

The plus one refers to Yucho Bank that is operated by the Japan post office.

Depending on what you read, the easiness of opening a corporate bank account is in this order: Yucho bank > Online > Regional / Megabanks. However, I feel that it is case by case and these situations changes every year so don’t just believe what you read.

Here are the main characteristics of each banks:

Mega Banks:

  • You can find them almost in every city
  • An element of trust if you have a bank account with these big players
  • You can discuss investment/loans
  • Expensive!!! You need to pay for almost everything, including having access to online information. It is like 2,000 yen per month! Also, the fee for making payments, cash withdraw is more expensive
  • Online experience may not be the best
  • Not 24/7. This is same with personal bank accounts but these banks are not open 24/7 (even online… crazy)

Regional Banks:

  • Almost the same as megabanks.
  • Plenty of physical stores but only in that region
  • If you have a physical business in that region, they may be more nice to you. Especially investment/loans

Online Banks:

  • Everything at your fingertips as everything is done online
  • Open 24/7
  • Cheap fees. Having access to online is usually free. All other fees are cheaper too
  • No one physical to discuss your business and talk about investment/loans
  • May not sit well with old traditional business partners (please pay into Rakuten Bank account etc)

Yucho Bank:

  • Somewhere between megabanks and online. Offers the usual services.
  • BUT you can only have up to 13,000,000 yen in the bank account. You cannot have more. So if you have big cash flow coming in and going out, this might not be enough

If you are reading this, there is a likely hood that you do business with oversea clients and if that is the case, there is one KEY information that you need to consider before opening the bank account.

Not all bank account accepts payment from abroad

So in the next post, I would like to go into which banks you can apply to IF you wish to accept payment from abroad. This will really limit your options….

Opening corporate / business bank account in Japan. Part 1: why so hard?

OK, so you have decided what your company is going to be called. Submitted all your paper works and congrats you have created your self a new company! The hard part is done! Right?

Not really. The hard part begins when you start applying to open a bank account for your newly created company. Sounds simple enough. You have experience opening your personal bank account. I thought the same. Oh, how wrong I was.

The process of opening a new business account is similar to your personal accounts. With extra information about the company. Such as registration forms etc. Nothing that you cannot easily obtain. The difficulty is the screening that is done by the banks.

Long gone are the days when banks were lining up for you to open a business banks accounts, but now because godo gaisha or LLC can be created with just 1 yen of capital investment (previously you needed at least JPY10K for kabushiki gaisha or JPY3K for yugen gaisha), a lot of fake companies are being created for money fraud such as ore ore sagi.

Now, it’s great that we all can now afford to create new companies but the issues are that not everyone can do business with it as we cannot create a corporate / business bank account (technically you can use your personal bank account but not recommended as you could muddle personal spends with your companies and the tax office will not be too happy). Very contradictory and very Japanese.

Anyway, going back to the opening of the bank account. What options do you have? Well, first, there are 2 main types. Banks with physical stores and ones that exist only online.

Let’s get into these in the next post.

Yama-no-shita LLC

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