The Information Technology Federation of Japan has certified FeliCa Pocket Marketing Inc. and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank as “information banks” to allow companies to use personal data for business purposes.

The certification, announced Monday, is the first of its kind. It is based on a government guideline compiled in June 2018 for information banking services to utilize personal information while protecting the privacy of individuals.

There is no need to obtain the federation’s endorsement to commercialize personal data. The Dentsu Inc. group has already launched personal data banking operations on its own. But credibility of companies as safe data providers will be reinforced if they are certified as information banks by the IT industry group.

The Aeon Co. unit and the trust bank will start operations utilizing personal data they hold by next March.

FeliCa, which offers reward points and e-money unique to municipalities trying to reinvigorate their local economies, plans to provide its individual customers’ data to local retailers and small firms to help them set up business strategies.

Sumitomo Mitsui Trust aims to capitalize on its database in the health care field.

According to the federation, around 10 other firms are considering applying for information bank certificates.

The full-fledged use of the information banking system is starting in Japan at a time when the world’s “Big Four” IT firms — Amazon.com, Apple, Facebook and Google — are under fire for freely tracing individual users’ digital footprints and using big data for advertisements and other commercial activities to make huge profits.

Under the system, information banks allow client firms to tap into their databases only after obtaining consent from data-supplying individuals. In addition, the individuals can select types of data to be used and grant specific firms access to their information.

“I hope to promote the safe use of personal data through information banks,” said Kentaro Kawabe, chairman of the federation.

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