Rakuten Announces Token for Loyalty Program
Rakuten, the Japanese Internet Services Conglomerate has decided to adopt blockchain technology into its Rakuten Super Points Program by rolling out a cryptocurrency called Rakuten Coin. It will play a central role in the loyalty program which has a total issuance rate of over 9.1 billion dollars. This announcement was made by the CEO Hiroshi Mikitani at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Rakuten is the 4th largest e-commerce major in the world behind Amazon & Alibaba. Rakuten is able to oversee a stronghold in Japan beating out the likes of Amazon. Their strategy has been similar to those of Amazon and Alibaba using diversification into various verticals as a key strategy for optimal use of their prowess in tech and especially big data.
But the key difference between Rakuten and the other e-commerce companies has been their use of the loyalty program as a tool to promote its growth in the user base in the various segments it seeks to penetrate. It also acts as a driver for establishing tremendous brand value across the globe.
Mikitani in his speech envisions Rakuten Coin as a “borderless currency”. “Basically, our concept is to recreate the network of retailers and merchants. We do not want to disconnect [them from their customers] but function as a catalyst. That is our philosophy, how to empower society not just provide more convenience,” Mikitani said.
The company would integrate the token as a way for the Rakuten user to be able to purchase or use any of the 70 services offered by Rakuten across the globe without any worry of differentiating exchange rates. This can also act as a growth driver for sales. But the key emphasis would be on providing value to the burgeoning loyalty program. This can act as a catalyst for boosting its brand value across these different segments. The company has not disclosed any timelines or a particular launch date yet.
The announcement couldn’t have been timed better for Rakuten. The company has had ample time to experiment with and understand blockchain technology. It had acquired a startup called BitNet and transformed it into the Rakuten Blockchain Lab in 2016. It’s objective is to explore blockchain technology and bring out applications for different use cases.
Here, it will be fascinating to see the developments on this project. The crypto community will be crossing their fingers with regards to the type of blockchain it might use. Using a public blockchain like Ethereum or NEM can lead to a lot more euphoria in the market as people see another major step taken towards mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies.
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