Rakuten Getting Ready To Rock With Bitcoin

July 16, 2014         By: Eric Wagner

Already the largest e-tailing conglomerate in Japan, and one of the largest in the world, Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani announced the inevitable adoption of bitcoin and other digital currencies by the global firm.

A closer look at the rash of acquisitions undertaken by Rakuten including buy.com, Priceminister, Ikeda, Tradoria, Play.com, Wuaki.tv and Kobo; is evidence of the wide reach this retailer has in all things digital.

Aside from e-commerce, the conglomerate also has an edge in banking (Rakuten Bank is the second oldest online bank in Japan, formerly known as eBank), media, travel and hotel booking, securities brokerage, professional sports and entertainment.

This move is seen as a brilliant push to include US-based online retailers into the Rakuten empire.  Once bitcoin payments are adopted, Rakuten would rank right behind DISH Network among the largest companies to accept bitcoin.

With over 10,000 employees, Rakuten trades on the Tokyo Stock Exchange with a market cap of 1.82 trillion yen, or roughly $18 billion US dollars (about 29,120,562.0000 Bitcoin). But unlike other publicly traded companies accepting Bitcoin, they have the platform that will facilitate wider usage of the nascent payment option.

In 2012, their revenues were reported to be $4.6 billion. By comparison, Overstock.com posted $1.3 billion in 2013.

In a recent move, Rakuten acquired hot up-start Viber Communications, which hosts a free VoIP call program available on Android and Apple iOS.   With over 300 million registered users, the Viber acquisition was a huge extension of Rakuten’s global reach.

Now with a currency option which can more easily facilitate global trade, keep an eye on this Japanese powerhouse to make huge waves in the online payments world.