Sony Bank

Sony Bank, Inc.
Native name
ソニーバンク, ソニー銀行
Industry Banking
Founded June 11, 2001 (2001-06-11)
Headquarters Nishikichō, Tokyo, Japan
Products Foreign currency deposits, investment trust, home loans
Owner Sony
Parent Sony Financial

Sony Bank (Japanese: ソニーバンク, ソニー銀行) is a Japanese commercial bank established in April 2001. It operates as a direct bank and has no physical branches or ATMs. It is a subsidiary of Sony Financial and a member of the Japanese electronics company Sony. Its main business is offering online banking with foreign currency deposits, investment trusts, and home loans.


A reduction in regulations in Japan at the end of the 1990s encouraged a number of companies to enter the banking sector for the first time.[1]

Sony faced challenges as it began Sony Bank. In 2001, when Sony Bank was founded, Web use was limited in Japan as compared with the United States.[2] Only 24 million people used the Internet every month at that time.[2] Still, the company remained hopeful that infrastructure would improve.[2] Sony claimed its move into banking went hand-in-hand with its shift from a manufacturing focus to a focus on content such as films and music.[3]

Sony announced its new banking unit in March 2000.[4] The bank started doing business on June 11, 2001.[2] The company began with ¥37.5 billion[4] of capital. It had around 80 employees at the time.[3] It added 340 online accounts during its first hour of operation.[2] At the time, the company offered yen-deposit accounts, investment trusts, card loans, and bank payments.[2] It hoped to expand into foreign currency deposit accounts, credit cards, and housing loans by 2002.[2] It also hoped to allow its customers to use automated teller machines from the Japan Post.

In 2001, Sony Bank hoped to accumulate 400,000 customers by 2004.[2][3] In February 2001, the company had hoped to accumulate $5.2 billion in deposits;[3] it adjusted that figure downward to $4.1 billion in deposits three months later.[2] In February 2001, the company aimed to gain $8.6 billion in deposits by 2006.[3] Analysts at the time were generally upbeat about the prospects for the bank. Raymond H. Graber of TowerGroup suggested the bank could synergize with the other operations of Sony Financial.[2] Still, Paul Jamieson of Gomez Advisors warned that customers would have high expectations for Sony Bank, given Sony's existing reputation for the ease of use and elegant design of its products.[2]

Shigeru Ishii was appointed and served as the first president of Sony Bank.[5]

As of 2005 the company faced weak earnings.[6]

By 2007, Sony Bank had accumulated 500,000 customers.[7] That year, Sony planned to add an online brokerage.[7]

In 2011, Sony group considering extending this subsidiary into the Australian market.[8] However it abandoned those plans in 2013.[9]


Upon the bank's founding in 2001, Sony owned 80% of the company.[2] By 2005, its stake had risen to 84.2%.[6] When JP Morgan Chase sold its stake, Sony increased its ownership to 87.4%.[6]

Sumitomo Mitsui owned a 16% initial stake in the company and allowed Sony Bank customers to access its 7,600 automated teller machines.[2] It had reduced its share to 12.6% by 2005.[6]

Upon the bank's founding in 2001, JP Morgan Chase owned a 4% stake in the company.[2] JP Morgan had hoped to expand its asset and wealth management services in Japan.[2] The company reduced its ownership to 3.2% by 2005.[6] It sold off its entire stake in 2005, claiming to have discussed the move with Sony in advance.[6]


  1. "Sony Plans Online Bank." New York Times: W.1. New York Times. Feb 01 2001. Web. 27 May 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Bach, Deborah. "Sony Counting on its Brand as a Magnet for its Web Bank." American Banker: 12. ProQuest Research Library. Jun 12 2001. Web. 27 May 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Bach, Deborah. "Sony Seeks Japanese License for Web Bank; Morgan has Role." American Banker: 1. ProQuest Research Library. Feb 01 2001. Web. 27 May 2012.
  4. 1 2 Stephanie Strom (NYT)Dan Fineren (NYT)Elizabeth Olson (NYT). "World Business Briefing." New York Times (1923-Current file): C4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008). Mar 31 2000. Web. 27 May 2012.
  5. "ENTERPRISE: COMPANIES: Online and in the Money." Asiaweek Aug 10 2001: 1-. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 27 May 2012.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "J.P. Morgan Chase & Co." Wall Street Journal: 1. ABI/INFORM Global. Sep 15 2005. Web. 27 May 2012.
  7. 1 2 Pilling, David. "Camera Sales Raise Sonys Game." Financial Times: 23. ABI/INFORM Global. Jul 27 2007. Web. 27 May 2012.
  8. Sony eyes online Australian banking July 28, 2011, The Age. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
  9. "Japanese giant Sony axes plan to set up online home loan business in Australia". Herald Sun. January 20, 2014.
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