Rakuten Could Be Just the Push that Bitcoin Needs

Japan’s Rakuten Inc. just announced that it will begin allowing users the option of payment via Bitcoin, at least on U.S.-based and then later on its sites in Germany and Austria.

There has been no word yet on if/when Rakuten will extend this option to its main site in Japan, but if the company take its cues from other major companies that now accept Bitcoin (Expedia, Inc. and Dell Incorporated, for example) it seems at least possible that will follow suit.

“The integration with Bitnet’s platform will make Rakuten one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world to begin accepting Bitcoin. In addition to offering consumers enhanced security, privacy, and convenience, Rakuten merchants will immediately see the benefits of being able to use a digital currency, including instant global reach with no cross-border fees, no price volatility, and no fraud, risk, or chargebacks,” said Rakuten in its announcement.

Cryptocurrency payments on major ecommerce websites have been welcome in the United States for these very reasons, and yet despite Rakuten’s enthusiasm it will most likely take a bit of time for Japan to embrace the practice. The collapse last year of Mt. Gox has a lot to do with this. Approximately 850,000 Bitcoins went “missing” (and were presumed stolen). Understandably, this does a lot to quell the public’s confidence. And yet despite this disaster, Japan, surprisingly, has refrained from mandating any regulation or policy on Bitcoin as a currency.

Rakuten seems commited to going further with Bitcoin payment integration, though. The company has already invested in Bitnet, so naturally they want to see their investments pay off.

“Rakuten’s mission is to empower the world through the Internet,” said Rakuten USA President Yaz Iida. “Not only can Bitcoin support this vision by helping our merchants better compete globally, but it also has the potential to benefit society by enhancing the security, privacy, and convenience of financial transactions. This is one of the reasons why we invested in Bitnet last year and we look forward to working with them on our U.S. marketplace.”

Rakuten is one of the world’s largest ecommerce sites in terms of sales—coming in only behind Amazon and Alibaba—and is also consistently ranked high in the The World’s Most Innovative Companies list by Forbes. Accordingly, the company’s blanket acceptance of Bitcoin payments globally could prove quite influential for the success (and mainstream acceptance) of the digital currency.

H/T: Rakuten