Kyash, a would-be challenger bank in Japan, raises $14M

The new era of tech-enabled banks is coming, even in regulation-heavy Japan. Kyash, a fintech company with visions on becoming Japan’s first challenger bank, said today it has raised $14 million to continue its expansion.

To be clear, Kyash isn’t a bank. Yet. But it is currently applying for a host of licenses in Japan that could allow it to offer banking-style features, including checking accounts, ATM withdrawals and money remittance. Right now, it is a payment app that offers a connected Visa card in the style of Monzo, N26, Revolut (which has a Japan license) and others of that ilk.

The startup was founded in 2015 by Shinichi Takatori, a former banker and management consultant who saw the potential to merge tech and finance.

“I really noticed that information and communication has become ubiquitous but money itself hasn’t changed for a long time,” Takatori told TechCrunch in an interview.

The company took some time — two years — before it released a consumer product, but it quickly tied up with Visa to offer a prepaid debit card that connects to the Kyash app. That provides benefits like instant payment notifications, clear balance and lower fees for overseas spending, while

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