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E-Commerce Giant Rakuten Says Bitcoin Acceptance Likely

Jon Southurst
Feb 23, 2015 at 11:30 UTC
Updated Feb 23, 2015 at 15:08 UTC
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The CEO of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has repeated his conglomerate’s intention to “probably” accept bitcoin at some stage, at a company financial conference in Tokyo today.

Without disclosing a specific timeframe in which it might happen, company CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said: “We are thinking about [accepting bitcoin] and we probably will.”

The CEO, one of Japan’s wealthiest individuals, previously revealed his interest in bitcoin in a speech last July.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Rakuten has formed a department to study digital currencies and has invested in US-based bitcoin ventures, including Bitnet.

The Rakuten Financial Conference brought together high profile figures from the international payments industry, including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and James Anderson, senior VP for mobile and emerging payments at MasterCard.

While a number of possibilities relating to the future of payments were discussed at the half-day event, a key component was a panel focusing on bitcoin, featuring Bitnet CEO John McDonnell. Also present were Yukio Noguchi, an economist formerly with Japan’s Ministry of Finance, and representatives from Japan’s digital currency industry self-regulatory body, the Japan Authority of Digital Asset (JADA).

Xapo CEO Wences Casares was due to attend but missed the event due to “flight issues”.

Speakers at the conference also discussed Japanese consumers’ love of cash and loyalty point systems, something that often mystifies tourists and newcomers to the country.

Bitcoin became a somewhat notorious issue in the country following the Mt Gox debacle and its aftermath, but has otherwise been received favorably by politicians, avoiding overt regulation so far.

Rakuten, which is often considered a rival to Amazon, has over 10,000 employees and 40 businesses around the world. In Japan it operates a bank, an insurance company, and even a professional baseball team.

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