More retailers in Japan accept virtual currency

With the use of virtual currency spreading especially overseas, more retailers in Japan are opening up to payments from tourists via the blockchain technology.

Electronics retailer Bic Camera Inc. announced Wednesday its outlets will start accepting payments by bitcoin for purchases of up to ¥100,000 on a trial basis at its flagship store in Tokyo’s Yurakucho district and Bicqlo Bic Camera in Shinjuku from Friday.

The company said it is introducing the new payment option, which it claims is a first for a major retailer in the nation, out of the belief that the use of the virtual currency will become more common among domestic consumers. It also said the move would attract more foreign tourists to use the cryptocurrency.

Introduced in 2009, bitcoin has become one of the most widely used digital currencies, with about 20 million users worldwide as of March, according to bitFlyer, a major domestic bitcoin exchange operator. The company is working with Bic Camera to set up the payment system at the stores. There are about 600,000 users in Japan, it said.

As of December 2016, payment by bitcoin was accepted at 4,500 domestic outlets, including bars, cafes and even sushi restaurants, according to Coincheck Inc., another major bitcoin exchange in Japan.

The use of the virtual currency in Japan is expected to increase this year, said Kazuyuki Shiba, a Principal Economist at the Institute for International Monetary Affairs.

More retailers in Japan accept virtual currency
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