Japan’s BITPoint to add bitcoin to retail stores
TOKYO: BITPoint Japan Co, the company behind Peach Aviation Ltd’s move to let travellers use bitcoin to pay for tickets, is planning to give hundreds of thousands of Japanese retail outlets the ability to accept the digital currency.
“We’re holding discussions with a retail-related company,” said BITPoint’s president Genki Oda in a recent interview.
“By going through a company providing payment terminal services to shops, we have the possibility of increasing its use at one stroke. It’s easier than talking to lots of individual retailers.”
BITPoint is joining a flurry of companies embracing regulations, enacted in Japan last month, that recognise digital currencies as a form of payment. That has helped to make yen trades one of the world’s largest transaction pools, exceeding China’s pole position at the end of 2016, according to Oda. Bic Camera Inc, one of the country’s biggest electronics retailers, began accepting bitcoin at two stores in Tokyo last month.
“We’re also talking to a big convenience store operator about using it,” said Oda, who also runs BITPoint parent Remixpoint Co, which had a market value of about 21 billion yen (US$189 million) on Friday. He said he’s aiming to make an announcement by early next year.
The shares of Remixpoint rose as much as 18 per cent to their daily price limit. Last week, Remixpoint said it will convert debt issued to BITPoint into equity, raising its ownership in the subsidiary to 97.7 per cent.
Bitcoin, which debuted eight years ago, is gaining wider use as a way to pay for goods and services, and lets people transact without oversight from governments, regulators or central banks. The virtual currency has been rallying against the dollar and other fiat currencies and was trading at US$2,210 on Monday, near record highs.
While BITPoint operates as a bitcoin exchange, it’s pushing to promote the use of the cryptocurrency in stores and other retail outlets, instead of as a speculative instrument. The company currently has ties with tens of retailers and plans to expand that number, said Oda.