It was August of 2008 – about a decade ago – when Yukio Sakamoto started his own company.
The idea was to provide financial companies with the technology and the strategic partnership that was quickly becoming a critical need. Global Winning Technologies Corporation (GWT) was started out of the need for progress.
Today, the average bank-related financing in Japan could take weeks, up to a month, for credit approvals and decisioning. Waiting for a mortgage will cost a customer three-to-four weeks. No one technology startup is making a significant impact, and cloud-based banking is still in its early stages.
There is great potential. I sat with Sakamoto to talk about GWT, what Japan’s financial industry looks like right now, and where you might find a good meal in Tokyo.
Paul Thomas: Tell us about how GWT CO. originated.
Yukio Sakamoto: Right now, Japan’s banks are trying to shift from the manual method of lending to online banking. The old models weigh them down–they’re still offering expensive services, and there’s no web integration to help them into the future. Only 13% of Japan’s banks offer online banking services, which means that their back-end is not effective. In other words–these banks want to expand rapidly, grow overseas and worldwide, and with it comes a necessary technological upgrade.
GWT’s story started about ten years ago.
Our mission, when we started GWT Co., was to provide leading-edge technology and engineering services to financial institutions in Japan. Our clients were banks, asset management companies. We were looking to disrupt. If you’re going to get out ahead of the future, you have to interrupt the existing model–at least a little bit.
PT: So customers are losing patience. What does innovation in banking in Japan look like now?
YS: Take auto loans as an example: An average consumer financing company using a traditional back-end could spend 30 minutes waiting for approvals, while the average bank-related financing could take as much as a month. This kind of service is slow in Japan. There’s just not much automation in these processes at these organizations. It makes everything slow.
So, the potential for growth in this arena is enormous. There is a new company that kicked-off in September of this year, that provides artificial intelligence scoring, but it is fundamental rate calculation capability. We’re looking to dive in and change some things.
PT: How do you think Provenir can help financial institutions in Japan?
YS: There’s one major area of growth to build on: Instant service. Aside from the previously mentioned company, there is potential for Provenir to impact the application experience, automate it and make transactions move quickly. The decisioning process needs an upgrade — the platforms are outdated and slow at financial institutions that haven’t upgraded legacy software. Social media hasn’t even been integrated yet!
Again, there’s incredible potential to make changes here using automation, machine-learning or artificial intelligence.
PT: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started?
YS: I was a foreign exchange trader and, at one point, a solution marketing consultant before starting GWT. It’s an exciting change. On the weekends, I coach a little league baseball team, and I enjoy watching air races.
PT: And finally, can you recommend a good restaurant in Tokyo?
YS: When you are in Tokyo, I recommend Taru Hei in Kanda!