Rakuten Coin: Rakuten to launch blockchain-based cryptocurrency for loyalty program
Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has revealed its cryptocurrency plans at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018.
@hmikitani_e presented new offerings this morning in #MWC18 keynote. @Viber community : a new chat space for 1Billion people !! & RakutenCOIN to empower people get the best from Cryptocurrency and Rakuten Super Points !! A signature moment !! @RakutenToday @aquafadas pic.twitter.com/Wa4PjO5cln— Olivier Alluis (@OlivierAlluis) February 27, 2018
TechCrunch reported that Rakuten is planning a blockchain-based cryptocurrency for its existing loyalty program – Rakuten Super Points. At MWC 2018, sharing Rakuten’s vision on how it plans to use blockchain technology to enhance its membership program, Founder, Chairman, & CEO of Rakuten Incorporated, Hiroshi Mikitani introduced “Rakuten Coin”, which he described as borderless currency.
“We have been thinking about how we should stay competitive…how we can stay as a meaningful service to the society. So, the conclusion was to become the largest membership company in the world. Now, globally Rakuten has approximately 1.2 billion membership...,” Mikitani said.
“Rakuten Super Points, which is our point program, is one of the strongest reward program in the world. We have already issued approximately $9 billion worth of points from the initiation of our service for last 15 years, now currently we are issuing somewhere between $2 billion to $2.5 billion of Rakuten Super Points and it is growing very, very rapidly.”
Mikitani said that Rakuten is integrating its ID globally and all its services (Kobo, Viki, PriceMinister, etc.) will be able to use its blockchain-based coin adding that “it would be able to be exchanged to the fiat currency.”
In an online post, Mohammad Ali, Product Manager - Developer Experience, Rakuten, explained that Rakuten’s loyalty program is one of the biggest in Japan with around 75 percent of the country’s population participating in it. For every yen spent on Rakuten’s platform, customers receive anywhere between 1% and 8% of the amount they spent as their virtual currency – Rakuten Super Point. These points could then be spent on Rakuten’s services or with participating partners.
Ali said that Rakuten awards Super Points for its services in the US (ebates.com, rakuten.com etc.), Europe (priceminister.com, es.rakuten.tv etc.), Asia (viki.com, rakuten.com.tw), and parts of South America (rakuten.com.br), adding that “there is a huge amount of circulation & utilization already of Rakuten Super Points (soon to be Rakuten Coin).”
Rakuten acquired bitcoin wallet startup Bitnet in 2016 as it sought to explore blockchain technology and its applications. In August 2016, the company also announced the opening of the Rakuten Blockchain Lab (R.B.L.) in Belfast, UK, which will be focused on blockchain technology and its potential applications in the fintech and e-commerce sectors.
“We have enough R&D resources…This is not something which just came up because it is kind of a fad but we have been preparing to do this [Rakuten Coin] for a long, long time,” Mikitani added.
Will AI kill our creativity? It could – if we don’t start to value and protect the traits that make us human