Will Japanese Retailer Rakuten Accept Bitcoin?

I’m sure Bitcoin enthusiasts will be thrilled to learn that Japan’s leading online retailer, Rakuten, is seriously considering adding Bitcoin to its payment options. Chief Executive Hiroshi Mikitani said of it, “We are thinking about it and we probably will.” I honestly don’t expect any strong surge of Bitcoin’s value after this announcement, but it’s good to know that major online retailers are still giving it a serious look.

Rakuten’s holdings include a global market and a purely Japan-oriented hotel booking business. It’s probably best known among bloggers for its slightly elite-oriented affiliate network that includes big names like LEGO and Wal-Mart.

A sample of one of the many banners available in the Rakuten affiliate network.

It would be good if Rakuten does accept Bitcoin. However, it could wind up becoming one more retailer that uses Bitcoin as a gimmicky sort of payment method with no intention of using it within its business, as Overstock does by giving employees the option of being paid in Bitcoin. It would probably sit beside Paypal and major credit cards as one more way to pay for your purchase. This may be one reason that some retailers have reported a lower volume of Bitcoin transactions than expected and others, like WordPress, have suspended the option as part of restructuring their checkout process. One “feature” of Bitcoin is that you can’t spend Bitcoin you don’t have in your wallets.

I know cryptocurrencies won’t count for much as currencies if users have nowhere to spend them. I just hope I’m not the only affiliate who thinks it would be convenient if Rakuten could give its affiliates the option to be paid in Bitcoin at the same time it rolls out this payment option. It would certainly save them on postage costs.

This isn’t something that’s set in stone just yet, but Rakuten’s CEO does seem supportive. It would be intriguing to see Japan’s leading online retailer accept the currency created by the person or people who go by the Japanese alias Satoshi Nakamoto.