One year after Japan’s government recognized the use of cryptocurrency as legal tender, bitcoin payments are slowly but steadily starting to go mainstream. Bic Camera, one of the biggest electronic, cosmetic and duty-free goods stores in Japan has recently revealed that although less than one percent of payments were made in bitcoin since it started accepting bitcoin payments last year, the number of bitcoin spenders is slowly increasing.
Bic Camera started accepting bitcoin payments shortly after the Japanese government set new regulations around digital currencies and the exchanges that are handling them last April 2017. Masanari Matsumoto, the PR and IR chief of Bic Camera, says that the average bitcoin user is a younger Japanese male.
Matsumoto continues with:
“When Bic Camera first installed the Bitcoin payment system in its stores, we expected that the customers paying in Bitcoin would mostly be foreigners,” he said. But it turned out to be quite different. “We noticed that Bitcoin was becoming very popular. Then the government announced that Bitcoin was officially legal, so we finally felt more comfortable introducing Bitcoin as a method of payment in our stores. Bic Camera always aims at responding to its customers’ demands, and there was a huge demand at the time.”
Last 2017, Bic Camera made a profit of $720,000,000. The percentage of bitcoin payments was less than 1% compared to fiat payments but market research shows that the amount is slowly increasing over time. In 2014, Japan residents withholding accounts in bitcoin exchanges were mostly non-Japanese, with less than 1% of Mt. Gox creditors being Japanese nationals.
But now, with the recognition afforded to bitcoin by the government, the Japanese crypto community has gotten into the act, even offering training to senior citizens on how to invest in the cryptocurrency industry.
Bic Camera says they aren’t concerned about security issues since they partnered up with Butflyer, one of the largest Japanese cryptocurrency exchange and bitcoin payment processors. Matsumoto adds that :
“Bitflyer stands between our company and our customers. We have faith in Bitflyer and we are confident. Furthermore, they are a cryptocurrency platform approved by the Financial Service Agency,”
While the recent Coincheck hack may have dampened the excitement associated with crypto in Japan, companies are still joining the industry. More than a hundred different firms have expressed an interest in starting crypto exchanges, the government says. At the time of the Coincheck attack, it was not a government approved cryptocurrency exchange. Bic Camera says they do not have plans of introducing any other cryptocurrency other than bitcoin at the moment.
(Photo Credit: Bic Camera)