Most of the hard work was now over. My next task was to apply for our first bank account and business credit card. Both were not that straight forward.
This was very obvious, we needed a bank account. We were told by our accountant and also by the virtual office company that creating a business bank account would not be as simple as a personal account due to the increase in fraud cases.
I did try speaking to some local banks (non-Megabank), however I was told that an inspection of the office space, office assets was needed to prove that the company was operating (and not a fake company). This was a problem for us, as we were using a virtual office address and working from home.
The next step was to try the Megabanks (which I thought would be tougher than the local banks). I was told that Mitsubishi UFJ has a strict inspection process, so I went to Mizuho bank. To my surprise, opening an account was not as difficult as I imagined. Mizuho bank needed the company and personal details, the bank seal (銀行印 – ginko-in) on the documents, and an explanation of the business operations.
A couple of days after the application, I received a call saying that the account creation was approved, and I could pick up the business account bankbook!
Business Credit card
My next task was to apply for a business credit card (法人クレジットカード – houjin-kurejitto-ka-do). We needed a credit card to sign up to some online services (such as Apple developer program to develop IOS apps, and Amazon Web Services). We could have used our personal credit cards, however we wanted to separate the company finances from the company finances, so thought it would be better to go with a business credit card.
After some researching online, I found that there were not that many options available.
amazon.co.jp has a nice page with business card options.
JCB business card – First year membership fee is free, following year is very cheap (under 2,000 JPY). However we found that some of the services we wanted to apply for, especially services outside out Japan would not accept JCB.
Visa and Mastercard – annual fees are cheap (under 2,000 JPY), however business card companies generally require financial statements and proof that the company is making money. This was a problem for us as we had just incorporated and have no revenues generated.
American Express Business Gold Card – Membership fee is high (27,300 JPY), however startup companies are welcome to apply.
After being rejected by one of the bank Visa cards, I applied for the American Express Business Gold Card. They required several documents – proof of my identity and company official documents.
After sending the application form and documents, it took just over a month before I received the business credit card.
Now for some shopping!