Japan's largest Internet company Rakuten Inc. has started to accept Bitcoin as a payment option on its American portal Rakuten.com, MasterCard describes cryptocurrencies as an innovative competitor, and more top stories for March 17.

Japan’s Rakuten becomes largest E-Commerce Business to accept Bitcoin

Japan's largest Internet company Rakuten Inc. 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.

Yaz Iida, President of Rakuten USA, said:

“Rakuten’s mission is to empower the world through the Internet (…) 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.”

Japan’s Rakuten becomes largest E-Commerce Business to accept Bitcoin

MasterCard report identifies cryptocurrency as a major competitor

In its last Form 10-K, the annual report required by the US Securities and Exchange Commission that gives a comprehensive summary of a company's financial performance, MasterCard describes cryptocurrencies as an innovative competitor. Specifically, the report reads:

“Rapid and significant technological changes could occur, resulting in new and innovative payment methods (including cryptocurrencies) and programs that could place us at a competitive disadvantage and that could reduce the use of MasterCard products.”

Coinbase Compliance Chief Resigns

Martine Niejadlik, the chief compliance officer at Coinbase, has resigned from the company shortly after Coinbase came under criticism for its outreach to investors and consumers. A spokesperson for Coinbase said Niejadlik resigned in order to spend more time with her family, adding:

“We are grateful to Martine for all that she has contributed to Coinbase, and pleased that she has remained connected to the company as an outside consultant.”

Gyft to Embrace ‘Radical’ Blockchain Concept in Gift Card Fraud Fight

Gyft CEO Vinny Lingham announced plans for his mobile gift card company to use Bitcoin to enable gift card providers to issue more secure, consumer-friendly digital products. Currently in the R&D stage, the technology standard would “tokenize” gift cards, allowing gift cards to be transferred between peers and other digital wallets by using colored coins, or Bitcoin tokens, issued on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Lingham said:

“We’re months away from having a viable prototype, but we think it’s going to be good for the industry and great for consumers.”

BitGo Announces Free Bitcoin Security for Individual Users

BitGo announced that individual users can now avail themselves of Bitcoin security features at zero cost. Businesses looking to secure their Bitcoin holdings can also try BitGo’s services for free.

According to BitGo CEO Will O’Brien:

“We are incredibly excited to now offer the security controls and capabilities of BitGo free to all individual holders of bitcoin (...) While historically we have offered advanced wallet services to enterprise customers, we feel it is critical for a growing bitcoin ecosystem that anyone can access the best-in-class security solutions BitGo provides.”

Isle of Man Prepares to Pass Digital Currency Regulatory Framework

The Isle of Man is soon to pass legislation that its government hopes will help it become a true paradise for digital currencies. The island will be the first place in the world to pass a "regulatory framework" for the alternative payment method.

Speaking to Buniness Insider, head of e-commerce for the Isle of Man Peter Greenhill said:

“We have the regulations and infrastructure in place to become a world leader in digital currencies. We already have companies coming in and setting up. We see this as the future and we want to be at the centre of development in this area.”

Online Bitcoin Trading Takes Root in Africa

Reporting from the African continent, Cointelegraph contributor Daniel O. Nyairo describes how Bitcoin is slowly but surely taking off over there. TagPesa and BitPesa, two Bitcoin exchanges operating in Kenya, have for instance recently made efforts to facilitate online trading in bitcoins, while BitPesa recently even organized an event which was specifically targeted at traders.


“It will take time for a vibrant community of online Bitcoin traders to grow. However, with the continent holding its first Bitcoin Conference on April 16-17, 2015, and a growing list of exchanges opening up shop on the continent, there is little doubt that it will happen.”

Online Bitcoin Trading Takes Root in Africa

Google introduces sending money via Gmail

Increasing the competition Bitcoin is already facing, Google has introduced the option to send money via Gmail. With this step, all users need to send and receive money through Gmail is a Google Wallet account – as well as a Gmail account of course. And although the service is only available in the US and UK as of yet, it is expected to become available in more countries soon.

As of yet, there is no word of Bitcoin integration.

Winklevoss twins tell crowd at SXSW Interactive conference cash will be 'whiped out' in ten years

At the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, the Winklevoss twins predicted that Bitcoin is destined to wipe out the use of cash as well as credit cards and other fee-based money-transfer services like PayPal by 2015.

Tyler Winklevoss:

“Cash is going to be killed. It will be nostalgia … You’ll tell your grandkids about the wallet, it was this thing made of leather.”

A 0.2% Credit Card Fee in the EU Will Not Undercut Bitcoin (Op-Ed)

The European Union (EU) Parliament will vote on whether credit card transaction fees should be arbitrarily capped at 0.2% today. Some are now asking if this fee cap would weaken the use case for Bitcoin in Europe, since one of Bitcoin's major selling points is how low its fees are: about four euro cents to send any amount. In an op-ed for Cointelegraph, Amanda B. Johnsen argues that the centralized nature of price fixing in euro payment processing is actually good for bitcoin:

“While price fixing in credit card services may bode well for the euro in the short run, every good bitcoiner knows that this game is a long one. The winning currency will be the one that can stand on its own two feet without corporate welfare or inflationary central bank practices.”

A 0.2% Credit Card Fee in the EU Will Not Undercut Bitcoin

Did you enjoy this article? You may also be interested in reading these ones: