Rakuten, one of the biggest e-commerce site in the world that further operates Japan’s biggest internet bank and one of the biggest credit card company, is to launch Rakuten Coin.
Hiroshi Mikitani, Rakuten’s CEO, described the planned coin on stage at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as a borderless currency which will be applied to in effect tokenize reward points.
Some $9.1 billion worth of Super Points have been awarded by the program since it launched a decade ago, with Rakuten now aiming to blockchenize it and tokenize it so that it can be more appealing to domestic and international customers alike.
Due to cryptos not needing a middle man, international fees can cost just as much as a payment to your local friend, thus potentially making Rakuten Coin attractive for cost conscious cross border purchases.
And as it is all fairly novel, with such tokenized reward points potentially having a market of their own on crypto-exchanges, it might attract a younger audience as well as perhaps speculators and investors.
But little detail was generally provided either regarding what blockchain they would use or when they might launch as well as whether they have the green light to do so.
Rakuten, however, isn’t the only established company to consider new tokenized business models. Kik, and others, are working on potentially replacing advertising through tokens, while an established New Zealand company will tokenize their equity.
But they are the biggest commerce company to try and upgrade the loyalty rewards model by utilizing blockchain technology and could, if successful, potentially gain a competitive advantage.
That’s because such tokens could act as semi-shares of sorts or non-voting shares, while also having the reward utility, which itself could be considered as earned dividends.
Making it all potentially a lot more interesting that those old paper coupons you get and forget somewhere in the next day until next time, if you are lucky to remember where you left them.
Which all means others could follow suit, and perhaps very quickly, with Starbucks already considering accepting cryptocurrencies, while Amazon keeps hoarding some crypto domains for some reason.