Japanese E-Commerce Giant Rakuten To Launch Its Own Cryptocurrency

Japan’s largest e-commerce company Rakuten[1], with a market capitalization of over $12.5 bln[2], is planning to launch its own cryptocurrency called Rakuten Coin based on Blockchain technology and the existing Rakuten Super Points[3] loyalty program.

The announcement was made by Rakuten CEO and founder Hiroshi Mikitani during his speech[4] at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 27.

Mikitani described the newly announced asset as ‎a “borderless currency,” underlining Rakuten’s vision of differentiating itself from its online retail rivals, like Amazon[5], Alibaba[6] or eBay[7] and “recreating” the relationship between retailers and merchants.

“Basically, our concept is to recreate the network of retailers and merchants. We do not want to disconnect [them from their customers] but function as a catalyst. That is our philosophy, how to empower society not just provide more convenience,” Mikitani said.

Rakuten Super Points loyalty system was launched 15 years ago and has seen significant success since then, resulting in a total issuance of over 1 trillion Super Points to Rakuten’s customers, roughly equal to $9.1 bln.

The points are obtained every time a customer makes a purchase on the marketplace and can be used to discount future purchases or buy certain products or services on the shopping platform.

The company intends to implement the Blockchain-based loyalty program to attract and engage customers, and use the growing interest in cryptocurrencies to recruit new loyalty members on a global scale.

Rakuten, however, hasn’t released any details about the launch date for the service.

The latest announcement comes almost two years after the Japanese Rakuten acquired[8] the intellectual property assets of Bitcoin payment processor, BitNet, and opened the Rakuten Blockchain Lab[9] to explore applications for Blockchain in e-commerce and fintech.