Tokyo, March 17, 2017 - Rakuten, Inc. and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Company Limited today concluded a basic agreement on the development of an operation platform business for liquefied petroleum (LP) gas retailers.
Based on this agreement, Rakuten and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance will jointly develop an operation platform business utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, including automated meter reading, cloud-based Customer Information Systems (CIS) and delivery management systems, which are all conducive to improved operations of LP gas retailers. Going forward, the two companies will further expand the services they offer while leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies, and will provide new value not only to LP gas retailers but also to consumers.
In the LP gas retail industry, competition is becoming increasingly intense ahead of the full liberalization of the city gas market set for April 2017. For that reason, improvement of operation platforms is of importance for the future of the LP gas retail sector. Since LP gas retailers have strong relationships with end users built up through long years of gas supply and periodic cylinder deliveries*1, it will be possible for Rakuten and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance to cooperate with LP gas retailers in a variety of services by improving and developing the operation platform.
With the belief that the Rakuten Ecosystem model can be applied to the LP gas retail industry, Rakuten has been engaging in various forms of collaboration with major LP gas retailers across Japan by leveraging the Energy Demand Side Service Development Cooperative, established primarily by LP gas retailers in May 2016. Rakuten has been undertaking bundled sales of LP gas and electricity, the introduction of payments of electric power bills with Rakuten Super Points, and services to obtain and analyze energy usage data through the “Energy Gateway” home energy management system (HEMS)*2.
With “Evolve business models” as one of the pillars of its growth strategy in its Medium-term Management Plan “Evolution,” which is entering its final year, Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance has been pressing forward in providing business models that go beyond conventional finance services in priority strategic areas, such as the environment and energy, and medical and nursing care. In recent years, the company has been moving ahead with research in the IoT field which is related to these areas, and the latest agreement forms a part of this initiative. Going forward, the company will strive to further expand business opportunities by building business models that leverage IoT and AI technologies.
Rakuten and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance will contribute to the sound competition and development of LP gas retailers in the energy market by offering a variety of new services through operation platforms for LP gas retailers.
*1 The method to deliver cylinders filled up with LP gas to users
*2 Press Release: Rakuten and the Energy Demand Side Service Development Cooperative Reach a Mutual Agreement to Explore a Business Partnership https://global.rakuten.com/corp/news/press/2016/0513_01.html
About Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Company Limited
Company Name: Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Company Limited
Main Businesses: Undertakes a wide array of operations on a global basis with lease finance as its core business, against the backdrop of flexibility unique to a nonbank and expertise on assets. Under the Medium-term Management Plan “Evolution” launched in April 2014, it positions “Evolve business models” as the pillar of its strategies and is promoting the creation of new businesses around the theme of the “fusion of finance and business operations.”
Headquarters: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Representative: President & CEO Tadashi Shiraishi
March 17, 2017
- Rakuten, Inc.
- Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Company Limited