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Passionate about strategy & innovation across Asia. At home in Japan. Connector of people & ideas.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has created three innovation hubs in Switzerland (at the headquarter in Basel), Hong Kong and Singapore, with additional centers in Toronto, London, Stockholm and Frankfurt/Paris expected to be established this year.

For now, the Hong Kong innovation hub, under the leadership of Benedicte Nolens, previously a Senior Director and Head of FinTech at the Securities & Futures Commission (SFC), appears to be the epicenter of activity. Benedicte presented the current initiatives at the BIS Innovation Summit this week.

The following reflects the contents of the presentation slides. For those wishing to take a deeper…


During his speech at this week’s FINSUM FinTech conference, Bank of Japan (BOJ) Governor Kuroda stated that the central bank’s experiment with Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) is to commence shortly.

Finally, I would like to touch upon central bank digital currency (CBDC). Since the release of “The Bank of Japan’s Approach to Central Bank Digital Currency” in October 2020, the Bank of Japan has been preparing to conduct experiments in accordance with this approach. We are finally scheduled to begin these experiments in spring 2021.

While there is no change in the Bank’s stance that it “currently has no…


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Over the last month, I had several opportunities to discuss the Finance, Technology & Innovation ecosystem in Japan with diverse audiences. The interest in the country remains strong, and we hope to see many of you in person again once travel becomes feasible. In the interim, for those who asked for recommendations on further reading, here are some suggestions, shared in this Medium post as they might be generally useful. If you feel strongly about anything I might have missed, please add your recommendation in the comments.

Japan Digital Agenda 2030 (February 2021)


Unleash Tokyo, March 9–11, 2021

This week, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government held a three-day online event titled “UNLEASH TOKYO”. Various speakers from Japanese & foreign companies, as well as influencers, thoroughly discussed Tokyo’s true attractiveness. The archive of the event has been shared on the official Invest Tokyo Youtube channel, and is accessible through the links below.

Day 1 — March 9, 2021


Digital Garage (DG) and Daiwa Securities have conducted a proof of concept (PoC) on utilizing blockchain technology to issue securities, whereby Daiwa Securities and Daiwa Food & Agriculture issue “Daiwa Securities Digital Corporate Bonds” and “Daiwa F&A Digital Corporate Bonds”, respectively.

This PoC was conducted in collaboration with Crypto Garage, a DG subsidiary developing blockchain financial services. Crypto Garage completed the development of an environment for issuing digital corporate bonds in a short period of time.

Crypto Garage provides technologies such as Delivery versus Payment (DvP) settlements and asset issuance. The information regarding “Daiwa Securities Digital Corporate Bonds” and “Daiwa…


Since the late 1990s, Japanese banks have been operating in an ultra-low interest rate environment in which spreads between funding and lending rates have been compressed. As a result, banks’ net interest income has fallen over the past 15 years and banks have felt increasing pressure to reduce costs and find new sources of revenues other than domestic lending.

To make up for the contraction of their core business, banks expanded into Japanese government bonds (JGBs). The large-scale purchase of domestic government bonds allowed banks to continue de-risking, while keeping the size of the balance sheet constant or even expanding…


Following the selection of the four “Global Hub Cities”, namely Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka & Fukuoka, in July 2020, the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry, and JETRO jointly announced today the selection of 50 startups from these hubs for an overseas expansion acceleration program.

The accelerator will run in February and March 2021, with a demo day planned for early April. The startups have been selected mainly from the robotics, mobility, IoT, new materials / devices, medical / healthcare, agriculture, space, and DX / IT services industries (nothing FinTech-specific!), …


Photo by Jack Carter on Unsplash

We made it, 2020 is behind us, what a year! While offline events have obviously become scarce, our writing and podcasts helped us to stay connected with the community. Thank you for being here with us. The following are our most popular stories of the year, month-by-month, so it provides an interesting chronology of the topics you found most relevant.

January 2020

29 Innovative Japanese Startups at CES 2020 in Las Vegas


Naturally, our offline event schedule was cut short in 2020, but regardless, two of the in-person events we managed to squeeze in before the lockdown also were among our most popular shows last year (Simone & Hayley), while Harumi managed to overtake most with a tremendously popular webinar towards the end of the year. We would like to thank all of our guests for taking the time to contribute to the community, of course. In case you missed them, please watch the top three, as well as all other recordings on our YouTube Channel.

#1 — Simone Maini, Elliptic

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