Sony Says Still Considering Internet Banking Move

Sony Corp., responding to a Japanese newspaper article, said this morning it is yet to make a decision regarding the establishment of an Internet bank.

The Wednesday morning edition of the Sankei Shimbun published an interview with Sony President Nobuyuki Idei in which he was quoted as saying the company had decided to make an independent application to the Financial Supervisory Committee later this month for a banking license. Sony should take the lead in such a venture, otherwise it would be meaningless for the company, the newspaper quoted Idei as saying.

"Sony Corporation wishes to clarify that at present no specific policy or decision has been made with regard to this matter," the company said in a brief statement. It stopped short of denying Idei had made the comment, and a spokesman for the company said he had not attended the interview and so could not comment.

The report follows Sony's admission in early December that it has begun studying the possibility of establishing a consumer Internet banking service [See "Sony Considering Creation of Internet Bank," Dec. 12, 1999]. At the time, the company said one of the things it would have to study was whether to establish a new bank or take over a failing bank.

In November 1999, Internet-centered investment firm Softbank Corp., major retailer Ito-Yokado Co., leasing company Orix Corp. and non-life insurance group Tokyo Marine and Fire Insurance Co. said they were planning to jointly enter the online banking business through the acquisition of the failed Nippon Credit Bank.

Sony, Japan's second-largest consumer electronics maker, is no stranger to the world of financial services. The company already has a stake in the online stock trading arena through brokerage Monex Corp., which was established in 1999. In addition, Sony Financial International Inc., a subsidiary company, issues credit cards and sells insurance products.

The establishment of an Internet bank would give Sony a stronger presence in the consumer finance sector and match its efforts in the electronics sector, which are largely focused on consumer, and not industrial, electronics products.

Sony Corp., in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.sony.co.jp/.

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