As bitcoin gains popularity following legal recognition in Japan, retailers, and companies are queueing up to accept the world’s largest and most popular cryptocurrency.
In a report today in the Nikkei Asian Review, the largest English business journal in Japan and the eastern Asian region, the headline read ‘Bitcoin going mainstream as Japanese business signs on’.
It is a sign of bitcoin’s growing popularity in the country, which recently imposed legislative changes to consider bitcoin as a legal method of payment similar to prepaid cash cards or gift certificates. In other words, a recognized method of payment. In what will prove a shot in the arm for bitcoin adoption in the country, Japanese regulators decided to end the ‘8% consumption tax’ imposed on transactions of bitcoin bought from exchanges. This is set to go into effect in July this year.
All of which has seen a heightened demand for bitcoin in the country.
Bitcoin in Demand
Seizing the opportunity to provide supply for the demand, up to 18 companies are applying for a new license from regulators to open bitcoin exchanges. Ten out of the 18 companies are new applicants, including the likes of Japanese internet giant GMO which is set to launch a bitcoin trading platform this week.
These are companies looking to carve a space for themselves in the digital currency ecosystem. Retailers have already gotten onboard. Recruit Lifestyle, the retail arm of Japanese conglomerate Recruit Holdings has partnered bitcoin exchange and services firm Coincheck to introduce bitcoin payments at its stores. Bic Camera, a Tokyo-based consumer electronics retail chain has partnered bitcoin exchange bitFlyer, to accept bitcoin payments.
‘The formerly niche technology is now gaining broader acceptance – for example, among appliance retailers, convenience stores and certain utilities,” read an excerpt from the Nikkei report.
Midori Kanemitsu, chief financial officer at bitFlyer further told the publication that the number of retail storefronts accepting bitcoin “is expected to rise to 300,000 or so in 2017.”
This time last year, Japan passed a bill to regulate bitcoin exchanges. This recognition from authorities has only pushed bitcoin’s recognition and acceptance in the mainstream, a Coincheck representative told CCN earlier this year.
Such is Japan’s recognition of bitcoin in the mainstream that all three of Japan’s ‘megabanks’ - from an industry that is known to abhor bitcoin around the world - are now investors in Tokyo-based bitFlyer, the country’s largest bitcoin exchange by trading volume.
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