Rapid Mainstream Adoption in Japan as Retailers and Merchants Integrate Bitcoin

Bic Camera, one of the largest electronics retailers in Japan with strong brand power across the country, has been accepting bitcoin as a payment method for months. Through its partnership with BitFlyer, the country’s largest bitcoin exchange, Bic Camera is continuing to accept bitcoin throughout its stores in Japan.

The integration of bitcoin by Bic Camera led to a major increase in bitcoin adoption in Japan, South Korea, and China. Mainstream media networks and news publications in Japan began to provide extensive coverage of bitcoin, introducing the digital currency to a wider audience and consumer base.

Local merchants were also influenced by Bic Camera’s integration of bitcoin. As a result, as many as 260,000 merchants may accept bitcoin by the end of this year thanks to the integration of bitcoin by AirRegi, a leading Point-of-Sale (PoS) service provider in Japan.

The scale of businesses and retail outlets run by major companies such as Bic Camera is immense. Most of Bic Camera’s retail stores are located within the country’s largest malls and department stores, where Bic Camera’s stores take up around 20 percent of the space.

It is important to acknowledge that Bic Camera has been accepting bitcoin for a few months already. If users’ and customers’ experiences with bitcoin had been poor, any retailer the size of Bic Camera would already have terminated its partnership with BitFlyer and overhauled its bitcoin integration. But Bic Camera is still accepting bitcoin as a payment method and intends to do so for the foreseeable future. What’s more, large posters featuring bitcoin have been placed in stores to promote the digital currency and mainstream adoption of bitcoin.

First floor of a nine-story Bic Camera store in Tokyo, image credit to Quartz

Since Bic Camera integrated bitcoin, the number of bitcoin users and transactions has increased significantly. At the same time, transaction fees have actually declined, primarily due to the implementation of the Bitcoin Core development team’s Segregated Witness (SegWit), a scaling and transaction malleability solution.

If merchants could no longer deal with rising bitcoin fees and consumers began to complain in regards to the fees, merchants would not have any other option but to stop accepting bitcoin as a payment method. However, that has not been the case. The adoption of SegWit has been on the rise, and already more than five percent of bitcoin transactions are SegWit-enabled. These are smaller in size and have substantially lower fees than other transactions.

As the global bitcoin market stabilizes and overseas markets strengthen as a result of practical and efficient regulatory frameworks for bitcoin businesses and investors, the mainstream adoption of bitcoin will further increase. Japan has demonstrated an exponential rate of adoption of bitcoin as both a digital currency and safe haven asset. Some of the country’s largest technology conglomerates, hotel chains, restaurants, retailers, and stores have already integrated bitcoin.

Today, multi-billion dollar conglomerates such as GMO are targeting institutional and retail investors to provide a more robust ecosystem for large-scale traders. If merchants, financial institutions, and investors continue to adopt and embrace bitcoin at this rate, it is likely that Japan will see serious mainstream adoption of bitcoin in the coming months.

Image Credit: Quartz, Swap