It’s notoriously difficult to set up and maintain a bank account in Japan. There are many (kanji-filled) hoops to jump through, which can be daunting for any newbies and long-term residents alike. Now Sony Bank is getting in on the action with a new English-language online banking service specifically aimed at foreigners living in Japan. Taking cues from digital-only banks overseas, Sony Bank is offering online smartphone banking and an international Visa debit card.
No more long lines and awkward conversations at the bank – the majority of Sony Bank’s services are delivered via an English-language smartphone app, including account registration. Daily banking tasks, like accessing your savings account or transferring foreign currency, are taken care of online, and the bank has English email support and live chat for troubleshooting.
The account can handle yen as well as 12 major foreign currencies. Every Sony Bank account comes with a combined ATM and international Visa debit card, called the Sony Bank Wallet, which can be used to withdraw cash and make payments in Japan as well as more than 200 countries (fees apply).
As an online-only bank, Sony Bank relies on a network of partner ATMs, including those at major convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Lawson. Just keep in mind that you only get a certain number of free ATM withdrawals each month.
Sony Bank is a member of the Sony Financial Group, partly owned by Sony Corporation, and has been working as an online bank since 2001. For more information, see the official Sony Bank website.
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