Japanese e-commerce tycoon Rakuten announced back in 2018 that they had an interest in building their own cryptocurrency. Now, in late March 2019, it is confirmed they will be launching their own cryptocurrency exchange and ‘Rakuten Wallet’, set to go live in June.
So why is this a big deal?
Rakuten are an e-commerce giant, having established themselves as the Amazon of Japan through the 2000s. Rakuten's business model over the last 10 years has been to acquire successful e-commerce platforms around the globe and assimilate them into the Rakuten brand. Whether this be play.com in the UK, PriceMinister in France or Ozon.ru in Russia; Rakuten's strategy has seen the them systematically using their buying power to expand their international presence.
Over the last 20 years Rakuten have earnt a strong reputation as a leader within the e-commerce marketplace world. Crucially, this is an industry which revolves around the central tenets of consumer trust, security and impeccable customer service. Rakuten will look to capitalise on their experience here, as in the cryptosphere these factors are often the exact apprehensions people have when considering a move into digital assets and cryptocurrency storage.
With consistent, yearly acquisitions, CEO Mikitani Horishi has a clear long-term vision of making Rakuten a household name across the globe. They are very much the opposite of a crowdsourced ICO developing an exchange, with their entry into the cryptocurrency world being the epitome of ‘big money entering the market’.
With an annual revenue of $9.4B USD, 15,000 employees at their disposal and an existing customer base numbering in the millions, we expect Rakuten to quickly become a powerhouse for the cryptocurrency market in Japan in 2019 and, as their previous business model suggests, we can then expect a further global strategy to follow.