NTT DoCoMo to Invest in Planned Internet Bank

TOKYO (03/27/2000) - NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc. (NTT DoCoMo), Japan's largest mobile telephone network operator, is planning to get into the online banking game. The company said this morning it plans to invest 1 billion yen (US$9.4 million) for a 5 percent stake in a new Internet bank being established by Sakura Bank Ltd.

NTT DoCoMo plans to bring the bank to its i-mode service, an interactive Internet services offered via specially-equipped cellular telephones. In the year since the service was launched it has attracted 5 million users and 238 banks and credit associations currently offer some form of online banking via the service.

"The main reason is for the convenience of i-mode users," said NTT DoCoMo spokeswoman Yuki Isono. "We have many banking users so we would like to increase the use of financial services via mobile phones."

At present most of the banking services on the i-mode system allow customers to perform basic operations such as checking of balances. Some allow more complex operations such as inter-bank transfer of money but full banking services are yet to be offered through the system. By taking a stake in an online operation, NTT DoCoMo hopes it can accelerate the speed with which new services are offered and thus attract more users to its service.

Sakura Bank is planning to establish the company by September this year and Fujitsu Ltd. will also be a major shareholder in the venture. Fujitsu, which operate's Japan's @nifty, largest Internet service provider, will promote the bank to its customers.

NTT DoCoMo, in Tokyo, can be contacted online at http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp or by phone at +81-3-5156-1366. Sakura Bank, also in Tokyo, is online at http://www.sakura.co.jp/ or can be contacted by telephone at +81-3-3230-3111.

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