A subsidiary of one of the largest US banks in Japan is also one of Japan’s leaders in the consumer loan business and is in the process of evaluating and planning its options to further develop its business in this arena. One input to the planning process that is a key factor to the firm’s success is the role of technology, specifically mobile technology.
The mobile telephony landscape in Japan is very sophisticated and changes more rapidly than in any other country in the world. New technologies have been introduced so that customers can use the phone almost with the same functionality of a credit card and certainly vendors have made mobile phones as functional as cash earning the nickname “e-wallet.”
A case in point the extensive train system throughout the country now allows its riders to board the train and pay for his or her fare at the seat, scanning devices are above each seat next to the reading lamps. The subways and metro accepts payment as well. Even the common Coca-Cola vending machines accept the e-wallet that can be embedded in every mobile handset in Japan.
There are over 1.5 million of these type vending machines. The “Smart” pumps at Exxon Mobile stations, toll-booths on the freeway, theater tickets and so on are all mobile phone payment accessible. The bank and all of its subsidiaries cannot afford not to explore this opportunity before its competitors embark on a faster track to potential loan consumers.
Toward that end Activate has been commissioned to deliver a snapshot of the relevant mobile or m-commerce and securities technologies and how they could impact the future development of its loan business in the form of a written report.
From this report a technical planning team in close cooperation with the marketing department will be able to decide whether the firm should create a secure mobile telephone loan service for the Japanese market. If it is decided that firm should pursue a mobile approach to automated loan processes then the technology team would determine how to create the system, establishing a developmental project with its own set of deliverables, timelines and budgets.
Accepting the findings of this report will require the planning teams to think “outside the box.” When an organization such as a bank steps outside the existing packaged solutions to become a trailblazer the project management team will need to communicate and modify traditional banking methodologies. Craig Courter, COO of Baker McKenzie, said, “We live in an ideas jungle…. the most important skill a project manager can bring to bear is the ability to sort, categorize and prioritize all of the ideas…only then can you implement a change that truly advances your strategy.” (Fretty 2005)
In the mobile telephony industry there is truly a jungle of new ideas. The report created an accurate picture of what is out in the market now and what the landscape will be in the near future so that the planning team has an understanding of competitive landscape.