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Talked: Charting the future faster than anyone else (latter part) Entrepreneur and media producer Hiroto Kobayashi x Consultant Atsushi Fukuda

Mr. Kobayashi is someone who has had his eyes on the world’s cutting edge developments since before the rise of the Silicon Valley ‘GAFA’ tech giants.
Even now, I think he may be the only Japanese businessman with a deep knowledge of India and Berlin.
Please enjoy this second part of our dialogue. It is full of interesting and stimulating episodes.
Talked: Charting the future faster than anyone else (latter part)
Entrepreneur and media producer Hiroto Kobayashi x Consultant Atsushi Fukuda


Kobayashi: “In the past, some book I read had the terms ‘Rimland’ and ‘Heartland.’ ‘Rimland’ refers to the periphery. The edges. On the other hand, ‘Heartland’ refers to the center. For culture, things that occur in Rimland (the periphery) will gradually come to Heartland (the center). That’s the idea.
“I think trends work in the same way. What was once a source of amusement for the aristocratic class will eventually reach the masses. That’s why I’m interested in ‘edge cities’ like Berlin. With regards to the blockchain, Brooklyn is flourishing in America. Until very recently, Berlin was called the ‘crypto capital’ and people involved in protocol development gather there from all over the world. There is also something like a topography of ‘topple GAFA,’ with engineers coming from Silicon Valley and San Francisco.
“As I also mention in my writing, in Japan, there is a strong impression that FinTech is led by banks. In Europe, deregulation forces banks to support transfer and remittance orders. Many non-bank IT companies have started services that are convenient for users. These are called ‘challenger banks.’ More and more of these are popping up, and, if they succeed in Europe, they will spread to the US and other countries.
“However, in Japan, with its legal barriers, there’s an image that it’s difficult to find a foothold. I was deeply moved when I heard about Anne Boden, a former employee of an Irish bank who launched Sterling Bank, a British mobile-only bank. She started the bank four years ago, and it was an incredibly difficult process. This made me realize, ‘Banks are things that you can start!’ It had a big impact on me, and I did various research on challenger banks.
“For example, there was deregulation called PSD2 (a European Union directive that regulates European payment services). With that, everyone began trying to topple the traditional banks. This means opportunities even for companies dealing in user experience (UX) design, front-end design, or communications. The points of competition are different.
“Until now, I was an outsider and thought that I could not be involved in FinTech stuff. But now UX is of vital importance, and this converges to questions about how things should be designed and branded. In this sense, marketing also becomes critical. In today’s FinTech, rather than questions of core technology, it’s more a question of, ‘How can we move users?’ That layer is one where we’ve worked. This really changed my way of thinking.”