Japanese E-Commerce Giant to Intergrate Blockhain Technology in Loyalty Rewards Program

Feb 28, 2018 at 14:27

Leading Japanese e-commerce platform, Rakuten will now join the global adaptation of cryptocurrency as it transition its rewards program to a blockchain-based system featuring a company-developed virtual currency.

The company’s chief executive officer, Hiroshi Mikitani made the announcement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, adding that the token would be called Rakuten Coin.

The token will replace the firm’s current Super Points program, which has long been regarded as one of the widest loyalty programs in the e-commerce ecosystem. Reports said that Rakuten’s customers have collectively earned approximately $9.1 billion in points over the program’s 15-year history.

However, Mikitani did not announce a release date for Rakuten Coin but explained that it will be integrated as well as in all of the company’s subsidiaries including Ebates, PriceMinister and Viber.

At present, it is unclear whether Rakuten Coin will run on its own, company-controlled blockchain or whether it will be built atop another blockchain such as Ethereum, Stellar, NEM, or NEO using smart contracts.

The company also noted that establishing its own virtual currency will eliminate transaction and currency exchange fees associated with conventional international payments that is expected to lead into more customers in all its subsidiaries.

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

In 2016, Rakuten acquired Bitcoin payment processing startup Bitnet in 2016 which it used to run a blockchain research lab.