Ja­pan’s BITPoint to add bit­coin to re­tail stores

New Straits Times - - Business -

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.

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