- Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. (SMBC) is launching a digital consumer bank in the U.S., as the Japanese banking giant looks to tap the North American retail market.
- The digital platform, called Jenius Bank, will operate as a new division of Manufacturers Bank, a California state-chartered bank and SMBC subsidiary, the company announced Wednesday.
- SMBC tapped John Rosenfeld, the founder and former president of Citizens Bank’s digital bank, to lead Jenius.
“With the launch of Jenius Bank, we have the rare opportunity to build exceptional products from scratch that uniquely meet the needs of today’s digitally native consumers who need and expect more,” Kazuhisa Miyagawa, chairman and CEO of Manufacturers Bank, said in a statement.
Manufacturers Bank is a Los Angeles-based, $4.9 billion-asset commercial bank that was purchased by Tokyo-based Mitsui Bank in 1981.
The bank, which serves middle-market businesses, came under the umbrella of SMBC following the 2001 merger of The Sumitomo Bank and Sakura Bank, a descendent of Mitsui.
Jenius will launch with personal loans in the coming months and expand to savings and checking products within its first year, SMBC said.
“Jenius Bank has established an extensive and ongoing consumer research program that will drive product designs with direct customer input,” SMBC said in a statement.
The Japanese banking giant invested $150 million in the venture, and Manufacturers Bank has hired 170 employees for the operation, according to Nikkei Asia.
The digital-only bank plans to leverage the “competitive differentiation” of a predominantly remote workforce, and aims to operate without “punitive fees,” SMBC said.
“Our target customers don’t want these things, and the resulting efficiency will allow us to provide more value back to them,” Rosenfeld said in a statement. “We are equally committed to being a fully digital bank and to providing outstanding customer service through a U.S.-based support team.”
SMBC’s bid to grow its international consumer banking footprint through a digital platform follows similar steps other large corporations have made in recent years.
JPMorgan Chase last year launched a digital retail bank in the U.K., a market where Goldman Sachs launched its Marcus platform in 2018.