Online marketplace launches Rakuten Coin

Japan’s largest online retail store, Rakuten, has just announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency.

The Japanese retail giant’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani unveiled the cryptocurrency during this week’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.

Dubbed the “Rakuten Coin,” the initiative will become part of the company’s points-based loyalty rewards system.

Mikitani described the project as a way for the company expand its international customer base.

According to a report from TechCrunch, the actual launch date has to be announced.

The company plans on making the Rakuten Coin available to use within all of its related businesses.

Aside from E-commerce, Rakuten also has an on-demand video service, a travel company, and the mobile messaging service Viber, among others.

The “borderless” payment opportunities cryptocurrency provides should attract more international customers, the company hopes.

Mikitani says Rakuten can already see the international demand by cutting exchange rates on purchases.

Amazon rival

The retail giant is often described as Japan’s version of Amazon and has a long association with cryptocurrency.

In 2015, it moved to accept bitcoin through payment processor Bitnet.

It has since invested in Bitnet and then hired two of the startup’s former employees in 2016 to create a Belfast-based blockchain lab.

The Rakuten-branded crypto is setting its sights on advancing the company’s global customer base.

According to TechCrunch, the idea is to mobilize the growing interest in cryptocurrency and attract new customers to its loyalty program.

Since it first debuted in 2003, the loyalty scheme has awarded more than $9 billion worth of points.

Rumors have also been swirling that Rakuten’s online retail rival Amazon, is about to move into cryptocurrency.

Although it seems highly likely that they would join the cryptocurrency revolution in some form, it’s still a matter of debate as to how.

Whether it’s accepting Bitcoin for payments, developing their own digital currency, or adopting blockchain technology for shipping logistics, the whispers have been lingering for years.

Maybe the two companies are about to go head-to-head in retail and the crypto game.