Japan's fast-growing digital currency sector has another new player, a multi-service bitcoin company called Bitbank that aims to capitalize on the country's existing love of both online shopping and electronic payments in physical stores.
Fees and accounts
Bitbank Pay is available to merchants for payments as low as ¥10 (approx. $0.10), with no monthly fees and transaction fees from 0–1.5%. There are more premium services available on its 'business' and 'premium' plans. Additionally, many fees for those plans are waived or heavily reduced during Bitbank Pay's introductory period.
There is a quick sign-up without need for documentation, and easy implementation into an e-commerce system even for non-coders.
Funding and development
has also just completed a second round of funding, having secured over $1.4m in total. Another round is planned in the near future.
A spokesperson from the firm, Emily Liu, said it is important for Japan to "be more international" and that bitcoin acceptance is a path to the future.
The company's co-founder and CEO is one of Japan's leading bitcoin evangelists Hiroki Minematsu, a programmer with a long involvement with bitcoin and who has appeared regularly in the Japanese media to discuss digital currency issues.
The firm's other co-founder, who asked not to be named, was the first to import a Robocoin bitcoin ATM to Japan, and Bitbank plans to launch its own branded machine soon.
The need to inform
Liu said there is still a need to educate people in the country about bitcoin, but that Japanese people had a head start with a range of well-developed electronic cash systems used for transit fares and throughout the retail sector, which include Suica, Pasmo and Edy.
Japanese people have also embraced e-commerce as both buyers and merchants, whether independently or at vast shopping online shopping malls like Rakuten and Amazon.jp.
For those without credit cards, convenience stores sell a range of debit card solutions. Customers can also use the stores as payment/delivery points.
Images via Bitbank
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