Rakuten rolls $9B loyalty program into a cryptocurrency
There have been over 1 trillion Super Points awarded to users since the program was launched 15 years ago, equivalent to $9.1 billion.
Back in 2016, Amazon’s Japanese rival Rakuten acquired Bitnet, a bitcoin wallet startup that it had previously invested in, to help it work on blockchain technology and applications. The company is planning a new cryptocurrency called Rakuten Coin — built on blockchain technology and the company’s existing loyalty program, Rakuten Super Points — which it plans to use to encourage loyalty services globally and to help customers to buy goods across different Rakuten services and markets.
The news was announced by Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani on stage at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where he described Rakuten Coin as a “borderless” currency. Neither he nor a Rakuten spokesperson we followed up with would give a launch date for the service.
There have been over 1 trillion Super Points awarded to users since the program was launched 15 years ago, equivalent to $9.1 billion, and the idea will be to now give users more ways of applying those loyalty points to more purchases, as a way of driving more purchasing to collect them in the first place.
Points currently are collected each time you buy — or, in certain markets where Rakuten runs marketplaces, sell — items or services on the site. As with its rival Amazon, Rakuten has a payment also has an MVNO mobile service with plans to launch its own full-blown mobile carrier — all of which become ways of spending more money as part of the loyalty program.
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