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Rakuten signals Bitcoin ambitions with Bitnet purchase

Rakuten signals Bitcoin ambitions with Bitnet purchase

Japanese e-commerce juggernaut Rakuten has signalled its intention to bank on Bitcoin after acquiring Belfast-based payment start-up Bitnet to seed a new ‘blcokchain research lab’.

This follows Rakuten’s integration of Bitnet into its online commerce platforms last summer but it has struggled to gain traction against more established players such as Coinbase and Bitpay, prompting it to take them in-house.

Yasufumi Hirai, Rakuten’s technology division head, said: “Drawing on the significant IP assets and deep engineering expertise of the Bitnet team and combining that with Rakuten’s leadership in fintech and support of innovative solutions, the new Rakuten Blockchain Lab will be our first step toward unlocking blockchain’s potential to revolutionize the way that financial and e-commerce transactions are conducted.”

This will see Rakuten takeover Bitnet’s IP as well as employ chief technology officer Stephen McNamara and former vice-president of engineering Fergal Down to establish a new Belfast-base for researching potential applications of Bitcoin technology.

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