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Investment services now offered at post offices

Date Posted: 2005-10-13

The Japanese postal service just jumped into a new financial services arena.

Beginning this month, the giant government agency began offering investment trust services in stocks and bonds. On Okinawa, the Naha Main Post Office and four others are offering its customers opportunities to invest in long term annuities instead of simple bank savings accounts.

On opening day, 24 customers took advantage of the new service, making investment contracts. Another two dozen, after listening to postal staff specialists explain the potential risks in investment programs, elected to walk away.

Initial reaction from the banking industry is favorable, as one official says “It will be very helpful to us, too. As people learn what investment trusts are, that knowledge will make people interested in us.” Another adds that competition is a healthy thing in providing customers better service. A third banker was somewhat leery of the postal system’s new service, saying “this investment trust business is very risky; it’s kind of like gambling, and the post office has never done that before.”

One Tomoshiro City resident made that discovery as she huddled with postal officials asking for “advice from you on how to manage my husband’s retirement money.” She told the counselor she’d been keeping the money in a regular bank account, where it wasn’t drawing much interest. Once she heard the risks involved in selecting an investment trust, she thanked the postal employee and said “I like to invest, but I might lose all my money. I need to first go talk to my husband.”

The Japan Post says it expects to see customers invest at least Y300,000,000 by early next year.

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