E-commerce Giant Rakuten ‘Probably’ to Accept Bitcoin

E-commerce company Rakuten is considering the integration of digital currency payments.

Photo: priceminister/ Flickr

Photo: priceminister/ Flickr

Tokyo-based e-commerce platform, Rakuten, will probably integrate bitcoin payments in the near future, according to the company’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani.

“We are thinking about it, and we probably will,” Mikitani said during the Rakuten Financial Conference. “We would like to be open.”

The Rakuten Financial Conference gathered professionals from the financial world, including bitcoin entrepreneurs, such as John McDonnell, CEO of Bitnet.

This is not the first time Mikitani speaks on the possibility of bitcoin integration. In 2014, he said that the company may accept digital currency in the view of the unstable currencies.

The company has already started investigation on digital currencies. Still, Mikitani refused to unveil when the service will be officially available, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Rakuten owns a number of well-known firms, including Canadian e-book reader company Kobo, which was bought in 2012. Besides, the company owns such websites as buy.com, Linkshare, Freecause, Priceminister and Play.com. Rakuten has also invested in such popular companies as Pinterest, Ozon.ru, AHA Life and Daily Grommet.

Last year, the company entered into a $900 million agreement to buy Cyprus-based messaging and calling app Viber.

Rakuten Ichiba, the main online shopping platform opened in 1997, is currently the biggest e-commerce website in Japan and the sixth largest in the world. Its businesses and employees are located all over the world. In addition, the company owns a bank, provides credit cards and includes an online securities brokerage.

In 2013, Rakuten, one of the main competitors to the US-based Amazon, generated revenues of about $5.3 billion. With the adoption of bitcoin, the company is expected to become one of the key biggest online shopping websites in the cryptocurrency industry.

Google, Dell Inc., Overstock.com, Microsoft, Expedia Inc. and Reddit are among the globe’s largest companies that have already begun accepting payments in bitcoin. Meanwhile, such technology market leaders as Apple and Line Corp. are developing their own transaction services to compete with bitcoin.

The launch of the new feature will contribute to the worldwide promotion of bitcoin, while improving the position of the cryptocurrency in Japan. The world’s largest digital currency exchange, Mt.Gox, was located in Japan. The country is also headquarters for BitBank Inc and Resu Press Inc., providing user platforms for retailers and individuals.

The Japanese government is known to be a supporter of bitcoin. Last year, the Liberal Democratic Party facilitated the creation of the self-governing body, the Japan Authority of Digital Assets, within the bitcoin industry.

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