Rakuten online store announces accepting bitcoins

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The Japan-based electronic commerce giant Rakuten announces their customers will be offered an option to pay with Bitcoin for their online purchases soon already.

Payments in the cryptocurrency will be made available through integration with well-known BTC payment processor Bitnet. The customers of Rakuten’s U.S. division will be the first to get this functionality, with the company’s German and Austrian local stores to follow the overseas market in the nearest time.

As Rakuten will be enjoying the status of Japan’s biggest Bitcoin friendly online store, its customers and merchants will get a set of options and benefits that payments in fiat currencies are unable to provide. While the former will have their transaction security and privacy enhanced (plus the long-awaited payment anonymity), the latter will finally feel the genuine freedom from commission and banking expenses, as well as chargebacks they have so many issues with.

By the way, Rakuten will only be second major Japanese corporation to enable their customers to pay with BTC – in late 2014, web services provider GMO Internet, Inc. already became the country’s first business giant to do so.

Yaz Iida, Rakuten’s global CEO and president of the American branch, sees the company’s mission in “[empowering] the world through the Internet”. He finds Bitcoin capable of increasing the competitive advantage of Rakuten’s merchants all across the globe, as well as make fund transfers more secure and convenient for both parties. Iida puts high hopes on cooperation with Bitnet in the U.S. market. In his turn, Bitnet’s CEO John McDonnell sees their partnership with one of the market’s leading e-commerce enterprises as a way to demonstrate the synergy of electronic commerce and Bitcoin payments, underlying its win-win features for merchants and shoppers being the primary stakeholders.

Founded in 1997, currently the Tokyo-based company employs as many as 14,000+ people globally and can boast almost 100 million domestic users. This number is more than just impressive, considering the total population of the country amounting to approximately 127,000,000. As of 2014, Japanese customers accounted for a considerable $16.5 billion worth of overall sales. Adding the long-awaited Bitcoin payment functionality for Japanese shoppers can also be seen as promoting the cryptocurrency to masses more largely.

Over the last few years, Rakuten has purchased several online platforms, services and companies with a view to expand their business, including a Canadian e-reading equipment manufacturer Kobo, instant messaging application Viber (for about $900 million), and cashback shopping portal Ebates ($1 billion).