Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten announced that a major update of its Rakuten Pay mobile app will be released on March 18, according to the firm’s 2018 earnings release, published on Feb. 12. The app’s new structure appears to indicate that it will support cryptocurrency payments in addition to fiat.
According to the company’s presentation material for the fourth quarter and the full year of 2018, the new version of the app will feature “all payment solutions embedded into one platform.”
Reported in January, and the recent materials confirm, Rakuten — known informally as “Japan’s Amazon”— revealed a revision to its corporate structure. The restructured company includes the firm’s cryptocurrency exchange “Everybody’s Bitcoin” as part of a newly established payments subsidiary, Rakuten Payment. The payment subsidiary, which was previously its loyalty subsidiary under the name “Spotlight,” will also include the corporation’s prepaid card service, Rakuten Edy.
The firm’s earnings release specifies that Edy will be supported in the updated app and also indicates support for QR code payments. Though the app update does not explicitly note crypto support, the company’s specification that “all payment solutions” will be supported on the platform implies support for crypto payments as a part of its subsidiary, Rakuten Payment.
Rakuten acquired Japanese crypto exchange Everybody’s Bitcoin in August 2018 in a $2.4 million deal. At the time, company representatives reported that the firm was “considering entry into the cryptocurrency exchange industry” as it believes “the role of cryptocurrency-based payments in e-commerce, offline retail and in P2P payments will grow in the future.”
In its earnings release, Rakuten reported a net income for 2018 of about 141.9 billion yen (about $1.3 billion), a 28.4 percent year-over-year increase from 2017.
In March 2015, Rakuten also announced that it had started accepting Bitcoin (BTC) as a payment option on its American portal, Rakuten.com.
Another Japanese internet and finance giant, SBI Holdings, has also shown major interest in the crypto sphere. The firm launched its own crypto exchange, Vctrade, in July. The exchange started accepting deposits in several major cryptocurrencies in December 2018.