Two Japanese retailers announced plans to accept bitcoin payments, potentially clearing the way for shoppers to use the cryptocurrency in 260,000 stores in the country, according to Coin Telegraph.
Recruit Lifestyle announced it will add bitcoin acceptance to its mobile point of sale tool AirRegi, which is used in 260,000 merchant and restaurant locations across Japan. The second retailer, Bic Camera, will begin a trial acceptance of bitcoin at two of its stores, and could expand to more stores pending the program’s success.
Recent decisions by the Japanese government will open the floodgates for merchants to accept Bitcoin.
- Japan’s regulatory bodies have embraced the digital currency. Just over a year ago, in March 2016, the Japanese cabinet approved bills which elevated bitcoin and other digital currencies to the same status as other forms of money. The government took it even one step further on April 1, 2017, when the parliament recognized Bitcoin as an authorized method of payment.
- In Japan, bitcoin acceptance has grown from a trickle to a stream. Merchants accepting the currency grew nearly fivefold from 2015 to 2016, expanding from 900 to 4,200 locations, according to a survey by NHK. With AirRegi set to add Bitcoin acceptance to up to 260,000 locations, the stage is set to see whether bitcoin will catch on with consumers. Chinese tourists visiting Japan may serve as a first-adopter base for the digital currency, because China’s most popular mobile wallet, Alipay is integrated with AirRegi, allowing the tourists to pay with bitcoin and avoid foreign transaction fees.
Recent global bitcoin developments have been a mixed bag. In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month poured cold water on an attempt to bring bitcoin to the mainstream by opening up an exchange-traded fund for the digital currency. However, there are a few bright spots for the currency outside of Japan: Australia and Switzerland, for example, both recently introduced changes that could drive bitcoin adoption. If the currency proves a hit in Japan over the next year, other countries may be expected to similarly warm to the currency.
John Heggestuen, director of research at BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on the payments ecosystem that drills into the industry to explain how a broad range of transactions are processed, including prepaid and store cards, as well as revealing which types of companies are in the best and worst position to capitalize on the latest industry trends.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- 2016 will be a watershed year for the payments industry. Payments companies are improving security, expanding their mobile offerings, and building commerce capabilities that will give consumers a more compelling reason to make purchases using digital devices.
- Payments is an extremely complex industry. To understand the next big digital opportunity lies, it’s critical to understand how the traditional credit- and debit-processing chain works and what roles acquirers, processors, issuing banks, card networks, independent sales organizations, gateways, and software and hardware providers play.
- Alternative technologies could disrupt the processing ecosystem. Devices ranging from refrigerators to smartwatches now feature payment capabilities, which will spur changes in consumer payment behaviors. Likewise, blockchain technology, the protocol that underlies Bitcoin, could one day change how consumer card payments are verified.
In full, the report:
- Uncovers the key themes and trends affecting the payments industry in 2016 and beyond.
- Gives a detailed description of the stakeholders involved in a payment transaction, along with hardware and software providers.
- Offers diagrams and infographics explaining how card transactions are processed and which players are involved in each step.
- Provides charts on our latest forecasts, key company growth, survey results, and more.
- Analyzes the alternative technologies, including blockchain, which could further disrupt the ecosystem.
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