TIM BUNTING

KIWI YAMABUSHI

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Get with the times

Japan’s refusal to get with the times is hurting them more than it should with the recent crisis.

What do I mean by refusal to get with the times? In general, there has been a lack of movement towards a digital economy.

Banks are the perfect example. Passbooks are still very much the norm, and if we don’t want to pay ridiculous fees for transferring money, which is free in NZ by the way, then we have to physically go to the bank, which I still do every month. There are still large numbers of tellers in the banks too, which could be automated to both save their customers time, and save the bank money. In this regard, they are prioritising their staff keeping jobs, which isn’t necessarily bad, but if I knew my job could be automated, I’m not sure how motivated I would be to do it.*

I think in general there is a large fear of technology, I hear of people being afraid of having money on computers because for some reason they think it can more easily be stolen (that depends on the technology of the bank, and if what I’ve seen is anything to go by, I don’t doubt them).

Meanwhile, NZ’s gradual shift online has put it in a much better position to deal with the crisis. That it is the norm for businesses to be online in NZ means that the shift to prioritising online business hasn’t been as bad as in Japan.

What’s the solution? Greater flexibility. Being able to move from and to a digital economy easily, just like NZ has. If these pandemics are to increase, then we need to do a much better job of getting businesses online here in Japan.

*a quick note, depending on the bank, a certain number of transactions per month is free. I’m in the process of changing banks, but that there are banks that still charge these fees, means that there are customers who go to the bank to transfer money, increasing the risk for infections

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Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 

tim@timbunting.com

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