Crypto Rewards Program Planned By Japanese E-Commerce Giant Rakuten

Announcements, Innovation, News | February 28, 2018 By:

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten is planning to launch a cryptocurrency rewards program that will incorporate its existing point system. The announcement was made by Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Rakuten is an electronic commerce and Internet company based in Tokyo. Its B2B2C e-commerce platform Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales. The company operates Japan’s biggest Internet bank and third-largest credit card company (by transaction value). It also offers e-commerce, FinTech, digital content and communications services to over one billion members around the world, and operates in 29 countries and regions. It is often referred to as “the Amazon of Japan.”

Speaking Tuesday, Mikitani said the new blockchain loyalty system will take existing Rakuten Super Points, used to purchase anything on the system from books to electronics, and turn them into a cryptocurrency called Rakuten Coin.

Mikitani described Rakuten Coin as ‎a “borderless currency,” underlining the company’s vision of differentiating itself from its online retail rivals, like Amazon, Alibaba, or eBay, and “recreating” the relationship between retailers and merchants. He said it will be integrated into all of the company’s many subsidiaries, which include Ebates, PriceMinister, and Viber.

“Basically, our concept is to recreate the network of retailers and merchants,” Mikitani said. “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.”

The company’s current rewards program issued over 1 trillion “Super Points” to its customers since launching the program 15 years ago, totaling $9.1 billion. 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 use Rakuten Coin to attract and engage customers, and use the growing interest in cryptocurrencies to recruit new loyalty members on a global scale. Mikitani, however, did not announce a release date for the cryptocurrency.