Japan's largest Internet company Rakuten Inc., announced today it has started to accept Bitcoin as a payment option on its American portal Rakuten.com. The company said this first integration should be followed closely by other global marketplaces integrations, including its German and Austrian e-commerce portals.

According to a press release issued today that it had integrated Bitnet's payment processing platform on a number of its marketplaces.

"Rakuten’s mission is to empower the world through the Internet," Yaz Iida, President of Rakuten USA, said.

According to 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 US marketplace."

On October 20, 2014, San Francisco-based Bitcoin payment processing platform Bitnet, closed a Series A funding round amounting to US$14 million. Led by Highland Capital Partners, the funding round also included existing investors, one of which was Rakuten, whose parent company bought Viber for US$900 million earlier that year.

In July 2014, the Japanese giant already indicated that it had set its sights on Bitcoin and digital currencies. In a speech dedicated to merchants in Fukuoka, Japan, Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, said his company would be accepting Bitcoin as a payment method "sooner or later."

Rakuten logo

Since then, the company has moved forward with its plan, starting today by allowing its American client base to shop with bitcoins on its dedicated website. According to Rakuten executives, the company's Germany and Austria units, Rakuten.de and Rakuten.at, will allow payments in Bitcoin as well starting in the second quarter of this year.

"Rakuten’s global marketplaces are great examples of how digital currencies can impact global commerce," John McDonnell, co-founder and CEO at Bitnet, commented.

"We’re excited to join with Rakuten in helping both merchants and shoppers reap the benefits of this new technology."

As of today, Rakuten is the largest e-commerce company to embrace the digital currency. The company is currently ranked the 8th largest Internet companies in the world by revenue and market capitalization. In 2014, the company generated US$5.56 billion in annual revenue.

Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 14,000 employees and partner staff around the world. Since 2012, the company has been ranked among the "Top 20 Most Innovative Companies" in the world by Forbes magazine. 

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