Only a few days after bitcoin officially became a method of payment in Japan on April 1, two major Japanese retailers have partnered with Japanese bitcoin exchanges to start accepting the digital currency for payments.
Bic Camera and Bitflyer
Bic Camera is a major consumer electronics retail chain in Japan. Many of its stores are either located in front of a train station or are directly connected to one, making them very easily accessible with lots of foot traffic. Bitflyer is the largest bitcoin exchange by volume.
According to Nikkei Asian Review, the two companies have partnered and Bic Camera will start a trial to accept bitcoin payments at two of its locations in Tokyo on Friday, using the Bitflyer’s payment system. The first location is Bic Camera’s flagship shop in Tokyo’s Yurakucho district, and the other is Bicqlo Bic Camera which is the hybrid outlet with Uniqlo located in Shinjuku. Usage trends at the two test stores will help the company decide whether other locations will accept bitcoin payments. The publication details:
Customers are allowed to pay up to 100,000 yen ($904) using the cryptocurrency, and they will also get reward points at the same rate as for cash payments.
Recruit Lifestyle and Coincheck
Meanwhile, another major Japanese bitcoin exchange, Coincheck, has partnered with Recruit Lifestyle, the retail support arm of human resources conglomerate Recruit Holdings. Coincheck confirmed the partnership to Bitcoin.com, adding that currently the company “holds 99% of bitcoin payment market share”.
By this summer, bitcoin will become a payment option at shops that use Recruit Lifestyle’s proprietary point-of-sale (POS) app called Airregi. Currently, 260,000 food establishments and other retail locations nationwide use this tablet-based POS system.
260,000 Stores Will Accept Bitcoin
While Nikkei reports that about 4,500 stores in Japan currently accept bitcoin as payments, in an interview with Bitcoin.com in January, Coincheck revealed that more than 5,000 merchants and websites accept bitcoin through the company’s system.
Electronic money is popular in Japan. In addition to cash payments, some of the most popular electronic payment methods are Suica and Rakuten’s Edy, which are rechargeable contactless smart cards. While Suica is accepted at about 380,000 outlets and used as a fare card on train lines in Japan, Edy can be used at 470,000 locations nationwide.
The partnership with Recruit Lifestyle “will add 260,000 more stores that accept bitcoins”, Coincheck claims, adding that:
Bitcoin will be accepted at 260,000 shops by this summer.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bic Camera, and Recruit Lifestyle