Rakuten Super Logistics, an order logistics company owned by Japan-based e-commerce giant Rakuten, has begun accepting bitcoin payments for its shipping services.
The integration comes nearly a month after speculation began that the e-commerce company could soon leverage bitcoin as a payment method. In July, CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said in a speech that he believes Rakuten will adopt bitcoin “sooner or later”.
Company CEO Joseph DiSorbo said that by adopting bitcoin, the company has opened itself up to previously untapped customer bases, noting:
Notably, Rakuten Super Logistics chose BitPay as its merchant processing provider. Speaking to CoinDesk, BitPay Executive Chairman Tony Gallippi said that the deal brings bitcoin awareness to a signifcant international market, while also highlighting bitcoin's capabilities for business-to-business (B2B) merchants.
Gallippi told CoinDesk:
A retail giant stirs
Rakuten is one of the largest companies to demonstrate an interest in bitcoin to date, reporting $5bn in annual revenue and $31bn in assets as of fiscal year 2013.
According to recent data, Rakuten represents the third biggest company to have at least some elements within its corporate structure to integrate digital currency.
Rakuten, founded in 1997, is comprised of a diverse group of businesses under one corporate umbrella. The company is involved in financial services, travel and media as well as e-commerce.
When Rakuten first publicly acknowledged its interest in bitcoin, founder and CEO Mikitani remarked that the developmental arc of the Internet made digital currency adoption somewhat of an inevitability.
Bitcoin's footprint grows in Japan
Given Rakuten’s outsized role in Japan’s e-commerce ecosystem and the growing prevalence of digital currency enthusiasts throughout the country, the pairing is a significant one.
The number of bitcoin supporters has grown, resulting in grassroots efforts to promote digital currency and its underlying technology. From business community standards groups like the Japan Authority of Digital Asset to meme-themed altcoins, Rakuten’s integration reflects the rising level of the interest in bitcoin among the country’s investors and consumers.
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