Rakuten Partners With Japan’s Biggest Railway Firm to Promote Cashless Payments

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Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has partnered with Japan’s biggest railway firm, the East Japan Railway Company (JR East), to promote cashless payments. The news was reported by Cointelegraph Japan on June 5.

The partnership will enable commuters to charge and use their rechargeable smart fare card — JR East’s “Suica” — via the Rakuten Pay mobile app.

As Cointelegraph Japan notes, the integrated service will bring cashless transport payments via the mobile app to commuters at 5,000 train stations and approximately 50,000 buses, in addition to around 600,000 stores across Japan.

According to an official press release published today, the forthcoming service is planned for launch in spring 2020. The two firms will reportedly look to future joint ventures to further promote cashless payments networks, the press release claims.

As Cointelegraph has previously reported, an update to the popular Rakuten payments app that could potentially facilitate support for cryptocurrency payments was revealed in the company’s 2018 earnings release, published this February.

Rakuten had acquired domestic crypto exchange Everybody’s Bitcoin in August 2018 in a $2.4 million deal. This January, Rakuten announced a revision to its corporate restructure, setting up a new payments subsidiary that includes its new cryptocurrency business.

Rakuten now plans to launch a forthcoming crypto exchange — dubbed Rakuten Wallet — this June, having sealed regulatory approval from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) in March.

Also in March, the FSA greenlighted Japanese crypto exchange DeCurret, which in parallel unveiled a new crypto payment system that will enable JR East’s Suica payment card to be topped up with cryptocurrency.

Notably, at the time of DeCurret’s revelations in late March, no concrete plans to roll out the crypto-chargeable Suica card had been finalized, with JR East reportedly only considering the implementation.