Bitcoin to Feature at Rakuten's First Financial Conference

Multi-billion-dollar retailer Rakuten is including a panel of bitcoin industry representatives at its first financial conference next month.

AccessTimeIconJan 22, 2015 at 10:47 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 11:27 a.m. UTC
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Bitcoin will be on the agenda in Japan next month at 'Financial Conference 2015' – an event being held by online retail giant Rakuten in conjunction with other firms.

The Japanese multinational and Amazon rival will host the one-day event in Tokyo on 23rd February, the first such event in the company's history.

Notably, Xapo CEO Wences Casares and Bitnet CEO John McDonnell both appear on the speakers list alongside PayPal founder Peter Thiel and MasterCard's James Anderson.

One session is a panel discussion titled 'The Rise of Bitcoin'. Local lawyer So Saito, of advocacy group the Japan Authority of Digital Asset (JADA) will also be speaking.

The event's website says:

"Innovative financial businesses are flourishing all over the world as technology evolves from day to day. Virtual currencies such as 'Bit Coin', advanced payment systems optimized for mobile, as well as their collaborations with Finance & Technology are rapidly emerging."

Rakuten and bitcoin

Rakuten was reluctant to speak about any possible plans to introduce bitcoin into its online shopping ecosystem, and did not comment on whether it would engage in any specific discussions with the two bitcoin companies represented

A Xapo spokesperson said:

"Rakuten is an innovative global force and a company we deeply respect. Honored to participate in their inaugural financial conference to represent Xapo and the bitcoin community."

CoinDesk contacted Rakuten to ask about the intent behind inviting bitcoin representatives to its conference, but received the response: "As for bitcoin related questions, we're not in a position to do comment at this stage".

CEO Hiroshi Mikitani has spoken favorably about bitcoin in the past, saying it is a more stable option than some national currencies and anticipating that his company would accept bitcoin "sooner or later".

In August, its US subsidiary Rakuten Super Logistics announced it would accept bitcoin for shipping services, citing consumer demand to use digital currency.

Rakuten is also notable in Japan for operating its own bank, a purely online operation with no physical branches. It also has insurance and investment management businesses, and its own team in Japan's national baseball league.

Its international operation includes over 40 businesses gained mostly through acquisition, including Buy.com and messaging app Viber. It has over 10,000 employees and revenues in 2012 topped 4.63bn.

CoinDesk has also reached out to Bitnet for comment on their involvement in the event.

Tokyo image via Shutterstock

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