On January 19, 2021, Taiwan ushered in a new era of financial services with the launch of its very first internet-only bank: the Rakuten International Commercial Bank (RICB).
Last year ― for the first time in nearly 30 years ― Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission announced that it is inviting applications for internet-only banking licenses, in a bid to bring in new FinTech expertise and stoke innovation in the industry.
I believe this will mark a very significant moment in the history of the financial industry in Taiwan.Taiwan Legislative Yuan Deputy Speaker Chi-Chang Tsai
Rakuten already runs online banking services in Japan and the EU, as well as several other online services in Taiwan. The new bank is a joint venture between Rakuten Bank and Rakuten Card ― both of which are based in Japan ― and Taiwan’s IBF Financial Holdings.
Speaking at a press event, Legislative Yuan Deputy Speaker Chi-Chang Tsai was hopeful that online banking would revolutionize Taiwan’s financial industry and bring about big changes for consumers. “I believe this will mark a very significant moment in the history of the financial industry in Taiwan.”
A new pillar of Rakuten’s Taiwanese ecosystem
Rakuten’s journey in Taiwan began over a decade ago with the launch of Rakuten Ichiba Taiwan, which soon became the destination for Taiwanese lovers of goods from Japan. It was Rakuten’s first major foray outside of Japan, and one that has continued to grow and diversify. With the addition of RICB, Rakuten now operates some seven different businesses in Taiwan.
Soon after the launch of Rakuten Ichiba came Rakuten Travel, closely followed by Rakuten Card ― both of which offered incredible benefits to Taiwanese users looking to travel to Japan. Rakuten Kobo also entered the market in 2016 as a pioneer in Taiwan’s ebook industry.
End of 2019, Rakuten cemented its status as a household name in Taiwan following the acquisition of the Rakuten Monkeys. The high-profile pro baseball team has since collaborated extensively with Rakuten’s different services.
I’m expecting RICB will deepen our commitment further and play a key role in driving innovation and developing the FinTech ecosystem in Taiwan.Hiroshi Takasawa, Rakuten Asia CEO
Together, these businesses form a formidable ecosystem, bound by Rakuten’s ever-popular loyalty program, Rakuten Points. With the newest addition of online banking, Rakuten’s Taiwanese ecosystem is looking stronger than ever before.
“I’m expecting RICB will deepen our commitment further and play a key role in driving innovation and developing the FinTech ecosystem in Taiwan,” revealed Rakuten Asia CEO Hiroshi Takasawa at the press event.
“Taiwan and Japan have developed a deep and long-standing relationship of mutual trust and respect. In addition to this strong bond between our people, Rakuten Group is strongly committed to Taiwan. We are adding new services, growing our ecosystem and engaging in sustainability activities.”
The RICB team is looking to make the most of this strong ecosystem, with several programs in place to allow users to earn Rakuten Points through banking transactions. Not only can these points be used within Taiwan, but the bank is even allowing Taiwanese users to access these points when shopping abroad in Japan ― keeping in line with Rakuten’s status as an authority on all things Japan.
VIP and Super VIP account holders will also be able enjoy a number of benefits, including free monthly withdrawals and transfers (even in Japan!), as well as rebates on transfer fees of up to 30% in Rakuten Points. VIP users can also look forward to free shipping benefits on Rakuten Ichiba Taiwan, as well as half-price ebooks from Kobo, while special benefits for users of Rakuten Card and fans of the Rakuten Monkeys are also expected in the near future.
We will strive to bring a brand-new era to the financial industry in Taiwan by creating a digital, sustainable, and inclusive financial environment.RICB Chairman Ming-Ren Chien
Experts in online business
RICB is fully committing to its status as an online-only service. In addition to regular transfer services, account holders can apply and be approved for loans in a matter of minutes ― completely online.
Payments for services such as Rakuten Ichiba or those available at the Rakuten Monkeys’ home stadium can also be made easily through the RICB app, but it doesn’t end there: soon, account holders will also be able to use the app to make QR code payments at supermarkets and convenience stores around Taiwan.
Despite the completely online nature of the service, RICB is determined to maintain a ‘human touch.’ 24-hour customer service can be accessed not only through messaging or voice calls, but also through video calls.
“At RICB, we all have a common goal,” RICB Chairman Ming-Ren Chien told journalists. “We will strive to bring a brand-new era to the financial industry in Taiwan by creating a digital, sustainable, and inclusive financial environment.”