Rakuten Launches Bitcoin Payments And Multi-Sig For US Market

Founded in 1997 Rakuten quickly become an internet pioneer in its homeland of Japan. The company runs the fourth largest e-commerce business, trailing only behind Alibaba, eBay and Amazon. Since its founding, it has expanded all over the globe, including Southeast Asia, Europe and North America.

Rakuten first started accepting bitcoin through its US shipping service, Rakuten Super Logistics, back in August of 2014. The company has since been dropping hints that it would begin accepting bitcoin for its larger e-commerce businesses, and officially announced it would do so last month.

The e-commerce website has gone beyond many companies in the US that have accepted bitcoin in the past, by adding multi-signature transactions for high-value items. Adding multi-signature transactions to Rakuten’s platform will allow the marketplace to have secure transactions, while lowering fraud and cost. A multi-signature transaction works with 2 or more private keys - instead of the usual one. This mitigates the risk of a private key being compromised, or a bad actor using a single key to fraudulently move funds.

The company is also offering a limited time discount of $30 for customers making purchases of more than a $100 with bitcoin. “Rakuten’s mission is to empower the world through the Internet,” said Yaz Iida, President of Rakuten USA.

The move is one of the first steps that the large internet company is taking to further integrate bitcoin into its many businesses. The company also announced plans to bring bitcoin payments to their Austrian and German e-commerce businesses in the upcoming months as well.

- Yaz Iida, President of Rakuten USA

To implement Bitcoin integration on this scale Rakuten has partnered with Bitnet. The two companies began working together in October, when the Japanese internet company took part of the payment processor’s $14.5 million series A funding. Future integration of bitcoin payments was one of the main reasons the company invested in the startup, Iida said.

- John McDonnell, Bitnet Co-Founder and CEO

The business and technical team behind the bitcoin startup BitNet previously managed and operated CyberSource. The company was sold to Visa for approximately $2 billion in 2010, a time when CyberSource reportedly processed about 25 percent of US online commerce transactions.

- Fumio Kobayashi, president of Rakuten.com