Green push ending 150-year tradition of bank passbooks in Japan

WebMitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. will start charging new customers for a bank passbook, joining other Japanese lenders that are pushing clients to kick the 150-year-old habit for the sake of the environment.

The country’s largest bank will require new clients to pay ¥550 a year for a passbook, encouraging them to embrace digital services, people familiar with the matter said. The measure will take effect April 1 and it is also aimed at cutting expenses. A bank spokesman said the firm is considering a passbook fee for new customers, although no final decision has been made.

The nation’s paper-driven way of doing business is shifting as the global movement to fight climate change puts pressure on lenders to conserve resources. The banks are also trying to modernize services and appeal to a younger, digital-savvy generation as the country’s rock-bottom interest rates continue to weigh on profits.

Japanese depositors have enjoyed free books for 150 years, allowing them to have their account activity and balances updated — by hand many years ago, and more recently using printers.

Banks not only have to cover production costs to print the books, they also pay taxes of ¥200 a year for each account with a passbook, a burden for firms managing tens of millions of accounts.

Japan Times

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