Japanese exchange BITPoint says it’s about to bring bitcoin to “hundreds of thousands” of everyday local retail outlets via payment terminals.
Bloomberg quoted BITPoint president Genki Oda as saying the company is “holding discussions with a retail-related company” that could increase the number of bitcoin-accepting businesses in one fell swoop. Additionally, the company is “also talking to a big convenience store operator about using it”.
We’ve heard of companies promising to massively increase bitcoin acceptance in the past, especially in Japan. However, dig below the surface and the talk is more about “potential” rather than actual acceptance.
BITPoint, though, already put a major notch on its belt by signing Peach Aviation. The Osaka-based budget airline announced last week it would accept bitcoin for bookings, with a view to promoting Japan as a tourist destination.
‘Konbinis’ Would Be Big Business for Bitcoin
Convenience stores are a massive business in Japan, with some brands even operating outlets on opposite corners of the same intersection. More like mini-supermarkets, they supply hot meals and groceries, snacks, alcohol, toiletries and other life necessities. It’s hard to imagine a Japanese consumer who didn’t enter a “konbini” at least once a day.
BITPoint, which launched in September 2016, joins other more established Japanese exchanges that also offer point-of-sale services. All have marquee clients to brag about.
These exchanges include bitFlyer, which currently operates the point-of-sale trial at two Bic Camera stores. The electronics and variety mega-chain started its bitcoin trial amid much fanfare last month.
Then there’s Coincheck, whose point-of-sale software is a common sight at bars and restaurants. Coincheck announced in April that a new deal with Recruit Lifestyle would see bitcoin accepted at over 260,000 retailers by summer.
BITPoint Hopes for Reality Over Potential in Japan
There’s no doubt Bitcoin is experiencing an attention and trading boom in Japan following new regulations which began 1st April. The new laws standardized bitcoin auditing and KYC requirements, and made all digital currencies acceptable forms of payment. Supposedly there are over 4,500 or even 5,000 merchants accepting bitcoin in the country.
However, as visitors to Tokyo have noted, it can be hard to find a bitcoin-accepting merchant just by walking around. Japanese consumers still love cash, or reloadable no-PIN cash cards like Suica, Pasmo, Waon and Rakuten’s Edy.
Bitcoin may not quite be a household name in Japan yet, but it’s a lot closer to the mainstream now than it was a year or more ago. Bitcoin signs in convenience stores could finally push it over the edge.
Is Japan going to be Bitcoin utopia? Let’s hear your opinions.
Images via Pixabay, Jon Southurst