SBI Sumishin, a Japanese internet
bank owned by Sumitomo Mitsui and SBI Holdings, is looking to
leverage its 750,000 customer accounts and expand its cards

The bank has launched its first
card product: a private-label, closed-loop membership card
programme with retail group CP Cosmetics. The product will be
available to the cosmetic retailers’ estimated 100,000 customers
and marks its entry into the highly competitive co-branded cards
market currently dominated by Mitsubishi UFJ Nicos, the card
issuing arm of MUFG, Japan’s largest bank.

CP Cosmetics will use Sumishin’s
balance sheet for its store credit programme, offered through its
network of spas and salons. It is understood the business is
looking to seal similar deals with other Japanese retail

“As a newcomer in the cards
industry, we found confidence in TSYS’ partnership approach to the
business,” said Tohru Nitadori, general manager of SBI Sumishin Net
Bank’s card business division.

Kelly Knutson, executive
vice-president of international services at TSYS, the processor
working with SBI Sumishin on the project, said he expected to see
more co-branded card programmes come on to the market. The sector
has traditionally faced tighter regulation than the banking
industry when offering finance to its customers. However, these
regulations are now moving into the bank sector.

“You have a lot of retailer store
card programmes branded as standalone in Japan,” said Knutson.

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“There are also a number of
retailers which have formed consortiums, effectively creating their
own brand name and card network within affiliated stores.”

Knutson also saw some potential in the Japanese prepaid arena,
with TSYS involved in the launch of the first Visa prepaid card in
the country through Travel Bank in March last year. He said there
was particular interest from corporates looking to limit and
monitor prepaid card spending overseas.