In a speech to merchants in Fukuoka on Monday, the CEO of Rakuten, a major Japanese e-commerce platform with more than 10,000 employees, said that the company’s accepting Bitcoin payments was not a matter of if, but when.
“I think the internet revolution will accelerate this year,” CEO Hiroshi Mikitani was quoted as having told the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper [translation our own]. “Rakuten also will accept money in bitcoins (a digital currency on the Internet) sooner or later probably."
- Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and chief executive officer of Rakuten
If you need a helpful analogue, Rakuten is Japan’s Amazon.com, and Mikitani is its Jeff Bezos.
This would make Rakuten one of the largest companies in the world accepting Bitcoin. Its 2012 numbers showed revenue of US$4.63 billion. Besides online retail, the Rakuten Group has more than 40 business and service that extend into travel, securities and banking. In fact, the group has its own bank.
Outside of Japan, Rakuten was perhaps best known for its aggressive acquisition strategy. Rakuten also acquired Viber in February for about US$900 million. It also holds a stake in Pinterest.
In late 2013, the company opened its retail platform up to US-based retailers, who don’t even require any kind of presence in Japan.
Should Rakuten follow through with Bitcoin payment processing, it will have ripple effects that will be felt far beyond Japan.
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