Mizuho is joining forces with World Innovation Lab to create a joint venture company that will pair with startups from Japan and the US to create new business services utilising fintech innovations and the Internet of Things.
MHFG and WiL are establishing a joint taskforce with the aim of creating the new unit by the summer of 2017. The bank says the incubator will focus on commercial applications of technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and blockchain, as well as the creation of disruptive new business models.
Daisuke Yamada, Mizuho's chief digital innovation officer, told local reporters that there were already 20 projects in the pipeline for the venture, utilising blockchain technology in trade and supply chain finance and artificial intelligence programmes in areas such as farming and travel.
"If we try to pursue business innovation within the bank, we have to ask around for permission from people in risk management, compliance and others. It takes forever," Yamada told Reuters in an interview. "It's not like building nuclear reactors or railway systems. If projects flop, all the costs wasted will be labor costs, we can move on to the next ones."
In addition to MHFG and WiL, a number of other top Japanese corporations are in discussions to sign on as shareholders, including Itochu Corporation, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance, and The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company.
The venture is the latest in a series of partnerships established by the bank this year, including a digital wallet joint venture with Metaps, an Asean fintech combination with Marubeni, and an R&D agreement with Soracom encompassing the Internet of Things.