The founder and CEO of Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani, announced yesterday the company plans to launch it own cryptocurrency in the near future. The announcement was made during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Rakuten is a Japanese company well-known in the world of e-commerce. According to Mikitani, the cryptocurrency would be called Rakuten Coin and he described it as a money without borders, loyal to the philosophy of Rakuten and with the goal of enhance the commercial interaction between the sellers and their clients.
Mikitani said: “Basically, our concept is to recreate the network of retailers and merchants,” he 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.”
Besides launching its own cryptocurrency, the company aims to combine the blockchain technology with its existing loyalty points programme known as Rakuten Super Points. This loyalty programme was highly successful and popular among the consumers and more than one billion points were awarded until now, worth around 9.1 billion US dollars. The points are awarded every time the users make a purchase and can be used to obtain discounts or buy certain products on the platform.
However, the company has not provided any details about the way Rakuten Super Points programme would be combined with the blockchain technology and no launch date for the new cryptocurrency was mentioned.
Considering the impact generated by the blockchain technology on different areas of the society, Rakuten could be using this innovative technology to improve its services, but also as a strategy to expand its user base.
This could have an important impact on the expansion of Rakuten, the largest e-commerce platform in Japan. The platform already has more than one billion users worldwide and reported net earnings of 8.8 billion dollars in 2017, which makes it one of the top 20 internet companies with the largest earnings.
This is not the first time Rakuten shows interest in the blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies. Back in 2016, the company inaugurate the Rakuten Blockchain Lab, a technological development center based in Northern Ireland. Rakuten also expressed interest in acquiring BitNet, a company specialized in bitcoin payments which the platform used to accept bitcoin payments since 2015.