Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) plans to stop handling cash transactions over the counter at 300 of its branches in Japan by 2022. This would represent about 70% of its total nationwide branches.
The Nikkei reports that SMBC plans to have advanced ATMs handle cash-related transactions and to shift personnel to asset management consultation. As cashless payments are gaining in popularity, driven in part by the novel coronavirus, there has also been an impetus to review the need for physical branches.
As is the case at all banks, SMBC has to keep a certain amount of cash on hand and available for people to deposit and withdraw funds and to pay tax and utility bills, for example; and it assigns a high number of employees to handle these cash transactions.
Instead, SMBC will encourage customers to use online bank as much as possible. People who require cash will be asked to use a next-generation ATM that also supports payment of tax and other municipal fees. And for people who do not have a cash card or in cases where the transaction amount is too high, a bank employee will issue a QR code at the counter which can then be read by the ATM for deposits and withdrawals. ATM servicing will be outsourced.
SMBC has already tried cashless counters at some branches in Tokyo and will gradually expand the number, while gauging customer reaction.
Shinsei Bank already has “completely cashless” branches, where employees do not handle any cash transactions.
Source: Nikkei newspaper, October 25, 2020 (in Japanese)
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