Imagine Amazon making a foray into crypto. While this is all but a quixotic dream in the U.S. and Europe, an event of this magnitude has just occurred in Japan, known to be one of the most crypto-friendly countries in the world.
Confirmed in a press release published on August 19th, Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant, has launched its own cryptocurrency exchange for the public to use. This marks a positive step forward in the infrastructural side of this budding industry.
Japanese E-Commerce Giant Boosts Bitcoin
Rakuten made a crypto splash in August 2018, acquiring Everybody’s Bitcoin in August 2018, spending $2.4 million on the cryptocurrency exchange. This deal led to mass speculation about Rakuten’s involvement in the industry.
Earlier this year, the rumors were quashed when the firm revealed that it would be launching a cryptocurrency exchange later this year.
And as aforementioned, the e-commerce powerhouse delivered, unveiling its new subsidiary Rakuten Wallet on Monday.
Per the release, the new application, which will first be listed on the Google Play Store prior to the App Store, will support spot trading of three cryptocurrencies. These digital assets are Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash. Rakuten Wallet’s press expounds:
“The app also features many useful functions that allow customers to effectively manage their crypto assets, such as confirmation of assets deposited in Rakuten Wallet, the purchase and sale of crypto assets, and real-time chart rate confirmation.”
According to the firm, all wallets will be separating crypto assets from investors and from the company itself through trust accounts provided by Rakuten Trust.
With Japan’s crypto history being riddled with hacks — just look to the thefts of hundreds of millions from Mt. Gox and CoinCheck, for instance — this is likely a move meant to satisfy Japan’s Financial Services Agency.
The Importance of Rakuten’s Exchange
While this may seem like any old exchange, Rakuten Wallet is likely to make a splash. Cryptocurrency analyst Joseph Young recently explained that Rakuten has a customer base of over 1.2 billion individuals, making it one of the world’s most important companies. While Rakuten Wallet is only expected to operate in Japan, which has a population of around 130 million, this new platform is evidently an important step in the right direction.
1/ Rakuten, the largest e-commerce platform in Japan whose products served 1.2 billion individuals in 2018, announced the formal launch of its cryptocurrency exchange.
Rakuten was anticipated to launch an exchange ever since its acquisition of a bitcoin exchange in August 2018.
— Joseph Young (@iamjosephyoung) August 19, 2019
Rakuten’s formal sortie is also important by simple virtue of Japan being one of the world’s largest crypto economies.
As Young remarked, per CryptoCompare data, the Japanese Yen accounts for 10% of all global Bitcoin trading volume, making it an important market from the get-go. He adds that the actual share the Yen has of the cryptocurrency market is likely larger, as Japan’s exchanges are known not to inflate volumes.
Also, the country’s companies and individuals have long been known to be early adopters of new technologies. Cryptocurrencies have been no different, with Bic Camera, a consumer retail electronics chain, accepting Bitcoin in stores across the country.
Rakuten Wallet may only boost adoption, capital inflows, and public awareness and sentiment in Japan.
Rakuten Wallet’s launch underscores a positive theme bubbling under the surface of the cryptocurrency market: more and more fiat on-ramps are starting to come to market.
For most of the crypto market’s history, it was hard to get money into Bitcoin and its ilk. Banks blocked accounts, exchanges were sketchy, and spreads were absurd. But this is quickly changing.
Rakuten Wallet is only one of the ventures involved in this process. In the near future, retail brokerages E*Trade and TD Ameritrade are expected to launch spot trading of cryptocurrencies while the New York Stock Exchange, via Bakkt, will be launching Bitcoin futures.
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