In April there were 50 cases of theft from
online accounts held by Japanese businesses with nearly 200
million yen stolen, according to a person with knowledge of the
industry-wide tally, which has not been made public. That was
more than the entire previous year.
Japanese businesses reported 34 cases of online banking theft
for the year ended March with a total of 182 million yen ($1.8
million) stolen, according to data released by the Japanese
Earlier this month, a senior official with Japanís Financial
Services Agency told regional bank executives that regulators
were concerned that online theft could cause a chain of small
business failures and bankruptcies, according to participants
who attended the closed-door meeting.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group said
their corporate customers had been hit by online thefts. Top
regional lenders such as Fukuoka Financial Group and Bank of
Yokohama also said their clients had also experienced losses.
Corporate users of online banking in Japan tend to be small
businesses and family-owned firms. In a typical theft, hackers
trick owners into surrendering passwords or gain control of
poorly protected computer systems to make transfers out of their
accounts, industry officials and security experts said.
"This has become a serious problem," Masaaki Tani, president of
Fukuoka Financial Group, the largest regional bank, said earlier
It was not clear why cases of such theft had increased so
rapidly although bankers elsewhere have warned of a growing
threat from hackers. "Cybersecurity attacks are becoming
increasingly complex and more dangerous," JPMorgan Chase & Co
Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said in a letter to shareholders in
Japan's banks are divided on how to respond. Promising
compensation might remove an incentive for businesses to tighten
security, some executives say. At the same time, tightening
security too much could kill the convenience of online banking.
In April, many regional banks suspended a service which allowed
clients to transfer money on the spot to accounts that were not
pre-registered. Chiba Bank reduced its online transfer limit to
10 million yen, from just under 100 million yen.
Until now, the question of whether to compensate businesses for
online theft has been left to each bank. Most offer fewer
protections than they do for individual accounts.
Resona Bank has said it will compensate business clients for
Internet losses of up to 50 million yen when customers have
taken appropriate security measures.
The lender is part of Resona Holdings, Japanís fourth-largest
banking group by assets. Resonaís pledge is part of a push to
build its business, including lending, to small- and
medium-sized businesses at a time when overall loan demand
($1 = 101.6050 Japanese Yen)
(Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Additional Reporting by David Henry
in New York; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)
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