Investing in Japan
Travelex Japan KK (Mr. John Rayment)
Industry： Finance / Insurance
Travelex Japan KK (headquartered in Minato Ward, Tokyo), is the Japanese subsidiary of the major UK-based foreign exchange company Travelex. They have been leading the domestic and international foreign exchange market since the establishment of the Japanese subsidiary in 2003 by utilizing their product capabilities and relationships with customers built on trust. We interviewed President John Rayment of Travelex Japan regarding inbound market trends and the company’s plans in Japan.
The rapid increase of inbound travelers to Japan in the past few years has greatly changed domestic and international foreign exchange markets. Traditionally, domestic foreign exchange operators mainly dealt with Japanese customers going overseas. The increase of foreign tourists—expansion of the inbound market, in other words—has been greatly changing the customer demographic. President John Rayment of Travelex Japan, one of the industry’s biggest companies in the country, explains how much the inbound market has grown, saying “The rapid increase of inbound travelers has boosted our currency exchange services for these visitors to almost 1/3 of our overall business in Japan.” Travelex Japan’s new locations which were opened in 2015 are also expected to be frequented by inbound travelers. These new locations include JR Shinagawa Station, New Chitose Airport Domestic Arrival Lobby and Nagoya Unimall. (Table 1)
The number of foreign visitors to Japan rapidly increased in 2014 to 13.41 million people, a 30% increase over the previous year. It is expected to be as high as 20 million people in 2015. In response to this, it has been reported by some media outlets that the government is revising the target number from 20 million to 30 million. However, Mr. Rayment points out the great potential of the inbound market, saying “Government expectations are 30 million but I believe it might be go beyond this.” The first reason that Mr. Rayment gave is the public transportation system that covers the entire country. He assesses that the great convenience of this system enables foreign tourists to make the most of their stays, which leads to their high level of satisfaction.
Markets for Japanese people and companies also have great potential
Mr. Rayment also emphasizes the importance of business focused on Japanese customers.Although more attention now tends to be paid to the inbound market, the situation has not changed.Japanese customers are still their core market, accounting for 2/3 of their business. In terms of future outlook, Mr. Rayment explains “While the number of outbound travelers among the Japanese has been slightly declining, this will remain the core business for Japanese companies.” According to Mr. Rayment, proximity to China and the rest of Asia is particularly important. One reason for this is that many Japanese people, three million of whom visit China per year, exchange currency within Japan before leaving the country. The company expects that this will continue being a dependable income source in the future.
Another major opportunity for Travelex lies in business aimed at companies. When you look at the global market, the ratios for individuals and companies in sales are approximately 50% each. However, in Japan the target customers for both inbound and outbound markets are individuals. Corporate customers account for less than 20% of overall business. Although companies already possess the largest share in markets for major travel agencies and major hotels with four or more stars in Tokyo, Travelex intends to expand business in this field. This is because the number of corporate customers who request foreign exchange services is expected to increase in tandem with the expanding inbound market.
Mr.John Rayment, President of Travelex Japan KK
The key to success lies in cultivating trusting relationships with customers
Travelex Japan is a Japanese subsidiary established in 2003 by the UK-based Travelex Group*, which is the world’s largest group in the currency exchange industry. Their business scope is vast, including not only exchange but also currency delivery and wholesale services for corporations like travel agencies and financial institutions. Before they entered the market, large banks were the main foreign exchange providers in Japan. Travelex has steadily expanded its business and increased its presence by utilizing its unique product and brand capabilities, such as 24-hour order reception via the Internet and diversification of methods to receive foreign currency.
In addition to these capabilities, Mr. Rayment says that the key to success in Japan is cultivation of trusting relationships with customers. He describes the Japanese market by saying “With foreign exchange services which handle currencies that are not regularly used, trusting relationships with customers are required in any market. However, this tendency is especially strong in Japan.” He says that once a company can gain the trust of customers, they can then establish a strong customer base through maintenance and expansion of repeat customers.
He also says that the ratio of Japanese people exchanging currency in airports is smaller than other countries. In the exchange business, it is most common to open locations in airports with heavy traffic. However, he says, in Japan opportunities are bigger when they conduct business within cities.
Successfully opened stores in all areas
In terms of Japan’s business environment, Mr. Rayment says “There are certainly differences between working in Japan and working in other parts of the world. There's a lot that the rest of world could learn from Japan and vice versa, but I have never especially experienced dissatisfaction when it comes to the legal system.” For example, Travelex Japan has been responding to the “Payment Services Act,” which came into effect in 2010, by establishing a special internal team for legal compliance within Japan. Their responses include registering as a Funds Transfer Service Provider, a classification which was newly stipulated. Mr. Rayment emphasizes the new establishment in Okinawa in 2015 the most as a milestone in the company’s business development in Japan. This is because the Okinawa location enabled them to complete a domestic network extending all the way to Hokkaido (Table 2). With the establishment of this base, the number of locations in Japan (as of November 2015) has reached 72, primarily in major cities and airports. Regarding their strategy for expanding in the future, their policy is to “always consider if opportunities present themselves for good locations” instead of aiming at a specific number.
Travelex was established in 1976 when Lloyd Dorfman, who is the current chairman, started a currency exchange business.
It has expanded since then and purchased Thomas Cook Global & Financial Services, which is one of the largest businesses of the industry, in 2001.
Travelex now possesses 1,500 stores in over 50 countries and promotes business partnership with local financial institutions, such as banks.
(November 2015 interview)
|2003||2003 Japanese subsidiary Travelex Japan KK established|
|2003||First store established within TCAT|
|2010||Registered as a first Funds Transfer Service Provider in Japan|
|2011||Established first automatic foreign exchange machine in hotel in Tokyo|
Travelex Japan KK
|Business:||Foreign exchange operations, activities related to foreign exchange, issuance/sales of prepaid cards (cash passports)|
|Parent company (group):||Travelex Limited|
(Headquarters) 6F Orix Akasaka, 2-Chome Building 2-9-11 Akasaka Minato-ku,