Rakuten is probably known to most as the name behind Play.com. Once one of Europe’s leading entertainment retailers, through poor management and financial direction it eventually hit the rocks. That being said, Rakuten’s ventures elsewhere have remained hugely successfully. Representing Japan’s biggest e-commerce company, with an estimated value of approximately $12.5 billion, it appears that the company is now exploring Blockchain technology. Set to work in conjunction with Rakuten’s Super Points loyalty program, Hiroshi Mikitani (Rakuten CEO) announced the plans during a speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Currencies without borders
As a retailer, Rakuten might have had its troubles, but it’s fair to say that it still remains a company with a vision. This vision is what’s driving Rakuten forward, which probably explains why it sees its new “borderless currency” as what’s going to separate from the competition. Looking to push past the likes of Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay, Rakuten believe that the creation of a new interlinked crypto will help recreate and repair the relationship between merchants and retailers. Mikitani said, “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.”
Keeping customer loyalty in focus
Many leading ecommerce sites have cast aside the loyalty points system, but Rakuten has shown that it can still hold value. Launched over a decade ago, it’s helped Rakuten gain traction in Asia, as at time of writing 1 trillion Super Points have been awarded to Rakuten customers. Equaling approximately $9.1 billion, points are issued every time a purchase is made and can be used for future Rakuten purchases.
It can be argued that the current Rakuten’s Super Points loyalty program is impressive enough in its current state. However, Rakuten sees the implementation of Blockchain technology as the chance to improve it further. Customer engagement is what’s behind the development, as Rakuten intends to use the runaway interest in cryptocurrencies to generate new loyalty members on a worldwide scale.
Sooner rather than you think
What many will have forgotten is that Rakuten already has roots within the cryptocurrency sphere. Two years ago, the company purchased the IP assets of Bitcoin payment processor BitNet. Using the foundations of the company to establish the Rakuten Blockchain Lab, it’s clear that the company has been looking to explore applications for Blockchain in fintech and e-commerce for some time.
At time of writing Rakuten hasn’t released any additional information on a launch date for the new service and/or related cryptocurrency. However, it’s clear that the project is pushing ahead. Make sure you stay posted to BitStarz blog, as we’ll keep you updated on exactly what’s what when it comes to Rakuten’s cryptocurrency plans.