Rakuten enables bitcoin payments

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Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten will now accept bitcoin payments on a number of its marketplaces, putting its acquisition of Bitnet into action.

The Internet services giant will begin accepting the new payment method first on Rakuten.com in the US, to be followed by Rakuten.de in Germany and Rakuten.at in Austria. This will mean integrating Bitnet, founded by ex-Visa execs, into Rakuten’s e-commerce platform.

The company has yet to announcement when it will allow bitcoin acceptance in its home market via Rakuten Japan.

“The integration with Bitnet’s platform will make Rakuten one of the largest ecommerce companies in the world to begin accepting bitcoin,” the company said in a release.

“Rakuten’s mission is to empower the world through the Internet,” added Yaz Iida, President of Rakuten USA.

Bitnet’s involvement may give it some clout against main rivals Coinbase and Bitpay, which command an increasingly dominant duopoly in the industry. While Bitnet raised $14.5 million in October, Coinbase took in another $75 million in a January round which included several Wall Street institutions, including The New York Stock Exchange. Bitpay raised $30 million last summer.

Rakuten’s announcement comes just a month after Rakuten’s CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, announced that his company was considering accepting bitcoin. The company has even formed a department to study the digital currency.

The Japanese operates a bank and insurance company in Japan on top of its e-commerce platforms. It is expanding worldwide and currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania.

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