Rakuten Inc. just announced their intention to terminate “All Bitcoins Inc.” and launch their own “Rakuten Wallet” on March 30. Businesses launching crypto wallets is nothing new, following companies like Line, KIK and KakaoTalk. The news comes after Rakuten completed their filings as a virtual currency exchange company (VCEX.)
The company stated:
Rakuten Wallet will contribute to the sound growth of the market as a virtual currency exchange company and will further enhance security and provide enhanced services so that more customers can use it safely and with confidence.
Rakuten will be filing another VCEX application for Rakuten Wallet in September 2019.
Earning cashback on purchases can make large purchases a little more enticing if you pair it with decent discounts. Rakuten aggregates discounts and helps customers receive cash back on their online purchases.
Their offerings have struck a not-so-nice chord with the JFTC among Amazon Japan and Yahoo Japan.
They have begun making one-sided alterations to contracts with sellers, essentially forcing them into disadvantaged loyalty programs. Something that wouldn’t usually be an issue because the price difference would fall on them, but they aren’t footing the bill.
Because Rakuten is an e-commerce platform which specializes in discounts, they can alter their discounts and cashback offerings for using their Rakuten Wallet digital payments solution. Consumers benefit from restricted choices. Too many options will confuse buyers, but not having a mutually-beneficial option hurts both parties.
A VCEX license would let Rakuten cut out middlemen like PayPal and centralized banks. Rakuten would not likely cut them out, totally. Some users wouldn’t use their platform if they did. Which currency(ies) Rakuten Wallet will use remains to be seen. They may choose to accept pre-existing cryptocurrencies like BTC, ETH and EOS, or create their own. Either will affect their product offerings.
We are another step closer to mass adoption but may end up two steps further away from decentralization. Taking power away from one entity with (limited) public insight and giving it to another with (more limited) public insight does not translate to decentralization. It translates to redistribution of power.
Rakuten, you have the potential to change the world for the better. Don’t squander your chance.
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