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.
“Not only can bitcoin support this vision by helping our merchants better compete globally, but it also has the potential to benefit society by enhancing the security, privacy, and convenience of financial transactions.”
- 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.
"At Bitnet we built security into the DNA of our platform. Our approach to security is designed to protect both shoppers and merchants. We're excited to join with Rakuten.com in offering the most secure and seamless global payment network that can be enjoyed by both merchants and shoppers,”
- 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.
"By integrating with Bitnet we are now offering consumers the industry standard in secure payments, and our merchants will benefit by receiving guaranteed payments. Both consumers and merchants will have peace of mind when participating in the Rakuten.com online marketplace,”
- Fumio Kobayashi, president of Rakuten.com