• Jiji, Kyodo

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NTT Docomo Inc. and MUFG Bank are considering forming a comprehensive tie-up on financial operations, it was learned Saturday.

The core banking arm of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. plans to launch a bank account giving preferential treatment to users of mobile phone services of NTT Docomo, a unit of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., informed sources said.

NTT Docomo and MUFG Bank are working on jointly offering housing loan and unsecured loan services, aiming to reach an agreement by this spring, according to the sources.

NTT Docomo users holding the planned MUFG Bank account will be able to more easily collect reward points from the mobile carrier, the sources said.

The two firms are also considering setting up a joint venture to run financial service brokerage operations, a new business area made possible through a law revision last June, the sources said.

In the new service area, a wide range of banking, securities and insurance products and services can be offered through a one-stop system. NTT Docomo and MUFG Bank are planning to sell a broad spectrum of financial products through smartphones in the future.

Following a request by the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to lower mobile phone fees, NTT Docomo is set to introduce low-cost services in March. With its mainstay brand services expected to see a drop in profitability, NTT Docomo aims to boost its earnings power with its financial services.

For MUFG Bank, the tie-up with NTT Docomo will be part of its moves to strengthen cooperation with firms in other industries through digital transformation as it seeks new opportunities amid a deteriorating earnings environment due to prolonged low interest rates in Japan, according to the sources.

In a similar move, SoftBank Corp. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. announced in June they would partner up on financial services via smartphones.

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