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In Japan’s remote areas, banks may soon pay visits to customers with mobile ATM vans

JIJI

An increasing number of regional banks in Japan are introducing automated teller machines mounted on vehicles to cater mainly to elderly people living in remote areas with no bank-run ATMs.

Shimane Shinkin Bank in Shimane Prefecture plans to introduce an ATM van as early as November for the first time in the country.

Using the vehicle, the bank plans to visit schools, community centers, nursing facilities and other locations to offer banking services.

“We hope to improve our services as much as possible in areas without bank outlets or convenience stores” as an increasing number of elderly people in the prefecture are living alone, a Shimane Shinkin official said.

The ATM van will offer deposit, withdrawal and payment services. Passbook updates, a service that ATMs in convenience stores do not provide, will also be available.

In Japan, many elderly customers still use passbooks instead of cash cards to keep track of their payments. In many cases, workers from regional lenders visit customers’s homes, bring back their passbooks for an update and return them to the customers.

A mobile ATM with passbook update functions will mean bank employees will no longer have to do such duties.

According to Oki Electric Industry Co., the developer of the ATM van, the vehicle will be able to access mountainous areas where there are many narrow roads. The ATM van costs about ¥10 million per unit, about one-fifth of the figure for a larger truck-type.

The company aims to sell 1,000 units of the ATM van over three years.

The use of ATM trucks that can offer financial consultation services as well has also been spreading.

Nanto Bank in Nara Prefecture introduced an ATM truck in July to mainly visit municipal offices.

Bank of Kyoto introduced an ATM truck in June, aiming to use it to acquire new clients at event venues and allow customers to withdraw money at locations hit by disasters.

“Mobile ATMs are an option to avoid sacrificing customer convenience” as the regional banking industry needs to streamline outlets to improve profitability amid negative interest rates, an industry official said.