Japanese Retail Giant Rakuten Hints at Bitcoin Acceptance
The CEO of e-commerce empire Rakuten has praised bitcoin and suggested the company could eventually accept the cryptocurrency.
The CEO of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani, has announced in a speech that his company will probably accept bitcoin "sooner or later", according to a report.
Mikitani made the comments in a speech (unofficial translation) to several of Rakuten's merchants in Fukuoka, saying:
Bitcoin offered a more stable option to some countries even over their own national currencies, he added.
Commerce and competition
Rakuten has its finger in many major pies. It is regarded as a global competitor to Amazon.com, and Mikitani himself is an Internet business pioneer often referred to as 'Japan's Jeff Bezos'. It also manages a professional baseball team, the Rakuten Eagles, which last year won the Japan Series.
Mikitani often engages in a fierce business rivalry with fellow entrepreneur Masayoshi Son of mobile phone carrier Softbank, with the two regularly seeking out ways to disrupt Japan's often conservative corporate status quo.
The company's online marketplace, Rakuten Ichiba (literally 'Rakuten marketplace'), has over 40,000 independent merchant members. According to Wikipedia, its revenues in 2012 reached $4.63bn.
It has also bought a stake in Pinterest, and purchased e-book company Kobo, whose devices it markets and sells in Japan, again in direct competition with Amazon.com.
Were Rakuten to begin accepting bitcoin, whether sooner or later, virtually every kind of consumer product would potentially be available for purchase with bitcoin in Japan. Often seen as another Holy Grail for digital currency, neither it nor CEO Mikitani has previously hinted publicly the option might be considered.
Mikitani image via Guillaume Paumier, CC-BY
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