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Rakuten Starts Accepting Bitcoin

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Japanese online retailer will team up with Bitnet in order to process cryptocurrency payments

Bitcoin has claimed another high-profile partnership following the news that Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten is set to begin accepting the controversial cryptocurrency.

Rakuten confirmed it would be teaming up with digital commerce platform Bitnet in a statement released today, creating a partnership that it said would provide enhanced security, privacy, and convenience for its customers.

However, only select countries will be able to pay using Bitcoin to begin with, first on Rakuten.com in the US, to be later followed by Rakuten.de in Germany and Rakuten.at in Austria.

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“Rakuten’s mission is to empower the world through the Internet,” said Yaz Iida, president of Rakuten USA. “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. This is one of the reasons why we invested in Bitnet last year and we look forward to working with them on our US marketplace.

San Francisco-based Bitnet has offices in San Francisco, California and Belfast, and sold its payment gateway product, CyberSource, to Yahoo for $2bn in 2010. It announced a significant round of funding last October, with Rakuten one of a host of investors.

“Rakuten’s global marketplaces are great examples of how digital currencies can impact global commerce,” said John McDonnell, Bitnet co-founder & CEO. “We’re excited to join with Rakuten in helping both merchants and shoppers reap the benefits of this new technology.”

Rakuten joins a growing number of companies accepting Bitcoin, including travel supermarket Experian and computer maker Dell, which last month revealed it would begin accepting payments through its UK online store via Bitcoin.

The company is partnering with payment processor Coinbase to bring the technology to the UK and Canada following a successful launch in the US last summer, which saw one transaction of more than $50,000 worth of the cryptocurrency.

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