Konica Minolta, Inc. (Konica Minolta) is pleased to announce that its Business Innovation Center (BIC) Japan, which develops new businesses that meet the needs of respective regions and markets, has developed "KOTOBAL", a multilingual interpretation service that assists communication between front desk personnel at financial institutions or government offices and foreign nationals who live in Japan. BIC Japan will officially launch the service by the end of this year.
The service aims to facilitate communication in situations where technical terms are often used by combining the results of machine interpretation displayed on a tablet screen with video interpretation by an operator. KOTOBAL has been developed so that it can be used at the front desk of financial institutions, government offices, real estate agencies, and dispensing pharmacies by applying the operational know-how and technologies of "MELON", a multilingual communication assistance service for medical institutions that started in November 2016 in Japan.
According to the statistics of the Ministry of Justice, the number of foreign nationals living in Japan exceeded 2.73 million at the end of 2018, a record high. The number is expected to increase by 340,000 in the next five years due to the revision of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act in April 2019. Accordingly, the number of foreign nationals visiting financial institutions and government offices is expected to increase.
Against this backdrop, any communication difficulties due to language barriers will increase the workload of front desk personnel such as more time required to follow procedures. Meanwhile, financial institutions are obliged to monitor and investigate suspicious transactions to prevent money laundering. Language barriers hinder in-depth verification. A system for accepting foreign nationals in various fields needs to be built to achieve a safe and secure society in harmony with foreign nationals.
Value offered by KOTOBAL
KOTOBAL enables quick and accurate communication between individuals who speak different languages through artificial intelligence (AI)-based machine interpretation and video interpretation by an operator. It can handle 13 languages including those required under the "Comprehensive Measures for the Acceptance and Inclusion of Foreign Human Resources" formulated by the Ministry of Justice. In addition to helping increase the efficiency of front desk services at financial institutions and government offices that require interpretation with professional knowledge, KOTOBAL also eases the concerns of foreign residents and tourists who visit to follow procedures. Konica Minolta aims to achieve a society where everyone can live with peace of mind without language barriers by minimising communication difficulties.
KOTOBAL’s machine interpretation uses the speech translation engine developed by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). NICT's speech translation engine was developed based on R&D in Japan and produces high-quality translations. A user-friendly, quick-response application has also been developed by utilising Konica Minolta’s know-how accumulated through providing services for medical institutions.
The chat screen displayed on tablet devices has a function to save conversation logs, which can be checked afterwards to help prevent troubles. When in-depth communication is required, the user can talk with an interpretation operator available 24/7 through the monitor. In combination with the chat function, this feature ensures mutual communication based on correct information.
KOTOBAL is an interpretation solution suitable for various businesses. It was initially developed for the front desks of financial institutions and government offices, and has been used by Japan Post Co., Ltd. and major financial institutions in the early introduction program, which aims to identify additional needs and improvements through actual usage. The service will be officially launched by the end of this year. A dictionary function, which registers unique technical terms in respective industries, will also be implemented, which will improve the interpretation accuracy.
Konica Minolta will exhibit KOTOBAL at the Tourism EXPO Japan 2019 (October 24 and 25) (at Intex Osaka).
More information: Business Innovation Center https://bic.konicaminolta.com/
 English, Chinese (simplified, traditional), Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish are available as the standard languages. Vietnamese, Thai, Russian, Tagalog, Nepali, Indonesian, Hindi, and French are available as optional languages.
 NICT's speech translation engine covers part of the available languages.
 The service hours vary depending on the plan and language used.
 A seminar will be held jointly with the Toranomon Chuo Law Firm on October 18.“Need for Financial Institutions to Offer Multilingual Services to Customers — In Response to the Revision of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and the Developments at Government Offices”
About Konica Minolta, Inc.
Konica Minolta, Inc. is a global technology company that provides innovative solutions to businesses and society. With its strengths in the combination of its core technologies in advanced imaging, optics, sensing, materials and nano-processing, Konica Minolta is committed to creating new values supporting customers to address challenges in their operations and work processes. Advancing its expertise in digital technologies, the company has been going through business transformation into a digital company, with insights into implicit challenges across the board as ‘One Konica Minolta’ in the era of Internet of the Things (IoT). Konica Minolta is also active in open innovation through various collaborations and alliances with academic, industrial and entrepreneurial partners.Headquartered in Tokyo, Konica Minolta has its Group companies in 50 countries with over 43,000 employees and offers products and services in 150 countries around the world.
About Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe
Konica Minolta’s journey started 150 years ago, with a vision to see and do things differently. We innovate for the good of society and the world. The same purpose that kept us moving then, keeps us moving now.
Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe GmbH, based in Langenhagen, Germany, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Konica Minolta Inc., Tokyo, Japan. With its unique expertise in imaging, data processing and data-based decision making, Konica Minolta creates relevant solutions for its customers - small and medium-sized businesses, large enterprises and public sector - and solves issues faced by society.
As a digital workplace solution provider, Konica Minolta helps its clients to identify and unlock the potential digitalisation holds and reach the next level in the digital maturity of their organisation by rethinking the workplace. In support of an ‘Intelligent connected workplace’, Konica Minolta offers cloud, IT, managed print and video solution services for remote working, collaboration, workflow management and automation and security. The company’s success in driving transformation is also confirmed by IDC, since the ‘IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Print Transformation 2023 Vendor Assessment’ has named Konica Minolta a “Leader” in print transformation. Konica Minolta has been a Microsoft Global Managed Partner since 2021.
Konica Minolta's Igniting Print Possibilities offering helps printers, converters and brand owners maximise workflow automation to increase efficiency. The company delivers consultancy in all communication matters as well as top-of-the-line production, packaging as well as label printers. Its finishing devices create print products that stand out and create added value. Konica Minolta has established itself as the production printing market leader for more than a decade in Europe (InfoSource).
For an increasing number of organisations, success today is more than the narrow definition of financial prosperity – it also includes protecting the environment and having a positive impact on their workforce as well as the societies they are embedded in. With its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Konica Minolta has pledged to consistently pursue its sustainability and social responsibility goals.
The company has been repeatedly recognised for its rich history of social contribution as well as for working towards achieving the SDGs throughout its business and supply chain. Konica Minolta received a GOLD Level Recognition Medal in the EcoVadis sustainability ratings for 2023.
For its remote services, Konica Minolta was awarded the prestigious ‘Buyers Lab (BLI) 2023-2024 Pacesetter Award in Remote Service for the Western European market’ from Keypoint Intelligence.
Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe is represented by subsidiaries and distributors in more than 80 countries in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. With more than 8,700 employees (as of April 2023), Konica Minolta Europe earned net sales of over EUR 2.26 billion in financial year 2022/2023.
Worldwide, the company has over 39,000 employees and is operating in over 150 countries.
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