In early February, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government hosted its first Tokyo Financial Award (TFA) ceremony, one of its many initiatives to turn the capital into a global financial center. A total of seven companies were recognized for the development of services aiming to resolve Tokyo residents’ needs and for their contribution to environmental, social and governance-related (ESG) investments.

To prompt companies to participate, the TFA committee took approximately 1,000 comments from Tokyoites about their current needs and problems they face when dealing with financial matters in their day-to-day lives, as well as their knowledge on ESG issues. The awardees were selected from nearly one hundred applications by a panel of specialists — whose backgrounds range from university professors to financial experts and CEOs — based on criteria including Tokyoites’ above-mentioned needs and ESG engagement outside of the corporate environment.

Tokyo Residents’ Needs

The following companies were rewarded for the development of products and services meant to help Tokyo residents manage their money efficiently and easily, notably through the use of technology and digitization.

Two-year-old start-up justInCase took first place. The company provides insurance services exclusively through a smartphone application at an affordable price, with a user-friendly interface making it a great option for those who are unfamiliar with insurance vocabulary and procedures. With the help of simple AI, they reduced claim-processing waiting time from a couple of weeks or days to only 10 minutes.

In second place was TORANOTEC, an investment company that developed a service allowing users to incorporate investing into their daily routines, making everybody an investor. Using data, their platform collects pocket change, virtual currencies and points from various reward systems, all of which users can then invest into entities of their choice.

GLORY was awarded third place with its proposal of a customer verification platform that would use face and voice recognition. With the plan to make the platform applicable across banks and other institutions, this project would make every one of them user-friendly, avoid problems with passwords and signatures, and make modifying personal information such as addresses and phone number a one-step process.

ESG Investments

The companies Neuberger Berman and ROBECO, with their parent company ROBECO SAM, were recognized for their research of financial sustainability. Neuberger Berman is a 2,000-member company —a quarter of them partners in the firm — and stood out through their high promotions of ESG engagement. ROBECO specializes in surveys, data collection, and company evaluation. They created and manage the Sustainability Yearbook and the Sustainability Index.

The two other companies were recognized for their contribution and impact on environmental causes. SOMPO Holdings launched an insurance service specifically for victims of natural disasters in Southeast Asia and Japan, including local governments. This was a quick response to a rise in the frequency of these disasters. Finally, Sumitomo-Mitsui Trust Asset Management, part of the Sumitomo-Mitsui Trust Holdings group, was rewarded for their high engagement in the proposal of a variety of projects. These were aimed at accomplishing various sustainable development goals, protecting ocean diversity through the funding of environmentally friendly companies, and their support of energy efficiency.

To find out more about the initiative, head to the Tokyo Financial Award website.