Rakuten’s involvement in the crypto industry has been rumored for some time. Back in 2016, Rakuten acquired Bitnet, a bitcoin wallet startup, to help the company work on blockchain technology and applications. Today, we’re seeing one of the first outcomes of that deal: Rakuten Coin.
The company’s existing loyalty program, called Rakuten Super Points, will be rolled into Rakuten Coin in its entirety. The points will continue to be used to encourage loyalty services globally and to help customers buy goods across different Rakuten services and markets.
Rakuten CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani announced the news on stage at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, describing Rakuten Coin as a “borderless” currency, as reported by Tech Crunch.
A launch date for the service has not yet been announced.
Rakuten Is One Of The Biggest E-Commerce Players To Enter The Crypto Space
Rakuten is one of a number of major companies trying to figure out its cryptocurrency strategy. Companies want to tap into the hype surrounding cryptocurrencies. Companies have also noticed the surge in attention – and the surge in stock price – companies receive when they announce a cryptocurrency-related venture.
With that in mind, Rakuten Coin was launched for two specific reasons:
- The company wants to see if it can drive more transactions from people internationally by cutting out exchange rate fees and other “friction” issues when customers purchase goods and services in fiat currencies
- Rakuten wants to take advantage of the buzz surrounding cryptocurrencies; there are people who might not be interested in loyalty programs that take note of Rakuten Coin because they’re interested in cryptocurrencies, for example
Obviously, Rakuten is an accomplished company in its own right. The company has billions of users worldwide. It reported $8.8 billion in revenue in 2017.
Rakuten has also awarded over 1 trillion Super Points to users since the program was launched 15 years ago. Those Super Points are worth about $9.1 billion. Today, Rakuten users collect points every time they buy Rakuten products and services.
Rakuten also took advantage of Mobile World Congress to announce plans to become Japan’s fourth mobile operator and enter the telecommunications industry.
Rakuten’s largest competitor, Amazon, has not announced any crypto-related ventures at this time.