Rakuten Opens Up a Blockchain Lab in the UK

The Japanese Company will join the increasing number of corporations investigating the uses of Blockchain Technologies.

The Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten has announced plans to launch a Blockchain technology laboratory located in the United Kingdom, the strategic move comes after Rakuten acquired human talent –and former employees– of the bitcoin startup Bitnet.

Stephen McNamara and Fergal Downey will join the Rakuten Blockchain Lab (R.B.L.) offices in Belfast. The official press release, reads:

The establishment of R.B.L. follows the acquisition by Rakuten of IP assets from Bitnet Technologies Ltd., operators of a digital payments platform powered by blockchain. R.B.L. day-to-day operations will be headed up by Chief Technology Officer Stephen McNamara and Vice President of Engineering Fergal Downey, both of whom will join from Bitnet.

The new laboratory will be a part of Rakuten’s Ecosystem Services organization –under its Technology Division, led by Fernando Paulo, Executive Officer, Rakuten, Inc–.

One year ago, the Japanese firm started to accept bitcoin payments, following a cooperation between Rakuten and Bitnet (who offers merchant tools for bitcoin transactions). Rakuten has been enthusiastic to develop and bolster potential applications in the FinTech and e-commerce sectors.

Yasufumi Hira, the head of the technology division at Rakuten Inc, 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.

On the other hand, Fergal Downy, VP of Engineering of the new Rakuten Blockchain Lab –and former employee in Bitnet–, said:

We are delighted that Rakuten have (sic) chosen to open their new Blockchain Lab here in Belfast.  There are so many great opportunities for blockchain technologies inside Rakuten and the newly created lab will be instrumental in delivering new and innovative solutions.

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