CASE 35 Supporting Habitto Co. Ltd, the first foreign firm to be registered as an intermediary company, for the application for Overseas Financial Corporation Business Establishment Subsidy Program

Yasunori Kume
Habitto Co. Ltd
Chief Operating Officer
Yasunori Kume
Koshi Watanaber
Habitto Co. Ltd
Head of Legal Compliance
Koshi Watanabe

Habitto Co. Ltd( was created by two founders, Samantha Ghiotti from Italy, now a fintech executive starting her career as a venture investor, and Liam McCance, a serial entrepreneur from Australia. They met in Singapore and co-founded SJ Mobile Labs Pte Ltd in 2021. And then, they established SJ Mobile Labs Japan KK (SJML Japan) in November of the same year to conduct business in Japan. In March of 2023, they changed its name to Habitto Co. Ltd. Mr. Watanabe was appointed as Head of Legal Compliance in August 2021, and subsequently, Mr.Kume was appointed as Chief Operating Officer.

The company is "a digital bank building a new money habit" that focuses mainly on the younger generation and women in Japan. Depending on each customer's need , they provide financial services including savings, investment products, and insurance sales which are complemented with a piece of warm customer-focused advice.

They have become the first foreign company to register as a financial services intermediary (securities intermediary business) in October 2022, and successfully launched their services in March 2023 after the completion of the registration as a deposit-taking intermediary and electronic financial services intermediary providing various services including savings, finance, and security transactions.

Based on the idea of "Technology + Human," the company has currently supported Japanese millennials with the Habitto's mobile app as well as advisory services via chatting and video calling.

Support by Business Development Center TOKYO (BDCT)

Reason for choosing to establish the company in Tokyo

The first reason is, obviously, its huge market. For us as a fintech company, the size of Tokyo's financial market and accumulated individual money was fascinating. Also, it's very helpful that there are a lot of partner companies, variety of office locations, and human resources in Tokyo. These are the greatness of Tokyo, we think.

Secondly, it was the opportune time for us as a financial services intermediary because the revised Act on Provision of Financial Services came into effect from November 2021. With this act, new intermediary business, which allows Fintech companies to provide one-stop service, was introduced. This system enables them to conduct banking service, security transactions, insurance sales with a single license. This was exactly what we had desired to do. This change of the regulation in this financial sector drove us to develop our new business models in Japan, based on the enormity of the Tokyo market. Thus, we decided to choose Tokyo as our base location out of many choices in Asia.

User feedback on BDCT services

BDCT has acted as the intermediary between the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and foreign companies like us, and provided us with the entire support related to the establishment in Tokyo. We used BDCT this time for the application for Overseas Financial Corporation Business Establishment Subsidy Program. Since we'd been busy with our work, we couldn't have enough time to gather information by ourselves. Therefore, we were very grateful to get much support from BDCT.

BDCT offers great services, so we hope our story would help more start-ups recognize BDCT. We hope the more people recognize what BDCT can give, the more advantages they can enjoy when they decide to come to Tokyo.

Outlook for future business development

It's been only just a few months since our new mobile app was launched, and our journey will move forward from now on. We are now focusing on acquiring more customers while expanding what we have accomplished so far.

To our delight, we've received good feedback from our current users. We think this shows we've been in the right direction, so we will keep going with our work.

We are thinking of charging our advisory service itself in the future, but before that our first step is to change Japanese millennials' mindset regarding money to make it become a part of their daily lives.

"Saving money for the future." This habit is what we've really wanted all the younger Japanese to make. For this, we'll try to provide a good environment and do our best to achieve our goals.

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