Rakuten Pay App and Cryptocurrency
Japan has proven to be a breeding ground for innovative payment solutions. Especially in the mobile department, the competition is heating up every single week. Rakuten, while perhaps best known for its online store, is also a traditional finance company/ Their focus on the Japanese market has been well-documented over recent years. In its latest earnings report, a surprising announcement was made.
To put this in perspective, the Rakuten Pay app will receive a big overhaul. Once the new version goes live in March 2019, users will be able to benefit from significant changes. Native support such as Rakuten Card and payment cards, barcodes, and QR code payments will take center stage. All of these features will be very useful within Japan, as consumers are spending more and more money through mobile applications these days.
While all of these developments are impressive, a lot of people were surprised to hear the company point at cryptocurrency support. It is a bit unclear what type of functionality will be included exactly. Rakuten acquired a domestic Bitcoin exchange in Q3 2018. Known as Minna no Bitcoin, the platform provides convenient access to buy, sell, and trade Bitcoin in Japan.
It would appear the exchange’s core functionality will be integrated into Rakuten Pay moving forward. Combined with the support for linked credit cards and QR code payments, some interesting use cases may be unlocked in the future. Whether or not specific limits will be put in place or additional KYC verification may be required, remains to be determined.
It is also worth noting the Minna no Bitcoin platform has not seen much activity since it was acquired by Rakuten. In fact, it appears this platform will also go through a facelift of sorts and services will be resumed in April of 2019. That means the Rakuten Pay app will be released with cryptocurrency functionality before the associated platform itself resumes its normal operations.
How this will affect the cryptocurrency industry as a whole, remains unclear. It seems Rakuten is keen on bringing Bitcoin to more consumers in Japan. Moreover, their plan to provide convenient access to all kinds of payment methods through one application is a very significant development. Cryptocurrencies are like any other form of money or value, viable as a payment method.