Japan’s legal classification of bitcoin as a payment method is set to trigger a bitcoin boom in adoption as retailers make haste to accept the world’s most popular cryptocurrency.
Late last year, Japanese officials took the formal decision to end the 8% consumption tax rate imposed on bitcoin buying through digital currency exchanges. On April 1, 2017, Japan officially recognized bitcoin as a method of payment.
The tax relief and regulatory oversight have helped foster confidence in Japan’s digital currency industry. There were over 4,200 bitcoin-accepting merchants and storefronts in Japan by 2016’s end, a number that had quadrupled from 2015. The marked growth occurred in a year when Japan’s cabinet passed bills to recognize bitcoin and digital currencies as the equivalent of money, in March 2016.
Earlier this year, major Japanese bitcoin exchange Coincheck told CCN that the Japan’s new laws acknowledging the digital currencies have helped push bitcoin trading volumes in the country. Through its bitcoin payment processor ResuPress, Coincheck has already enabled Japanese citizens with bitcoin as payment for electricity bills. Coincheck initially estimated that up to 20,000 merchants and storefronts could be accepting bitcoin this year. That number, as it so happens, turned out to be an entirely conservative estimate.
260,000 Bitcoin-Accepting Retail Stores, by Summer
According to a Nikkei report today, two Japanese retailing giants have partnered bitcoin companies to start accepting bitcoin payments.
First, Recruit Lifestyle, the retail arm of conglomerate Recruit Holdings is partnering Coincheck, which will serve as a payment processor, to introduce bitcoin payments for shops. Notably, bitcoin will be included in AirRegi, a Recruit-developed point-of-sale application that is used at 260,000 retail locations and eateries across Japan.
Customers will be able to use tablets at the storefront, or their own smartphone, to pay bills from their bitcoin wallet. As the payment processor, Coincheck will convert the bitcoins into yen to then transfer the fiat funds to the store.
Further, AirRegi is also compatible with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Alipay payment app, popular among Chinese tourists visiting Japan. Bitcoin’s inclusion as a payment option will prove attractive for tourists making payments in other countries without the burdens of foreign exchange.
Bic Camera, a Tokyo-based consumer electronics retail chain with stores across Japan has partnered bitFlyer, Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange, to accept bitcoin payments. The report reveals a trial run to be held this Friday with bitFlyer’s point-of-sale bitcoin payment system at the retail group’s flagship store in Tokyo and another store in the city.
Customers will be able to pay up to 100,000 yen (approx. $900) with bitcoin. As an incentive, customers will also gain the same reward points that they would for cash payments. Depending on usage trends at the two stores, Bic Camera could introduce the payment system at other locations around the country.
Furthermore, Japan will play host to the 2020 summer Olympics, an occasion that will encourage visiting foreigners to adopt and make payments in bitcoin if the cryptocurrency continues to expand aggressively as a method of payment in the country. With winds in its sails after gaining legal status as a payment method this month, bitcoin could soon be accepted in over a quarter of a million storefronts and retail locations this year.
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