The Japanese e-commerce and finance Major, Rakuten has confirmed the acquisition of Bitnet. The acquisition is the result of Rakuten’s increased interest in Bitcoin and blockchain related intellectual property owned by Bitnet.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Bitnet is a provider of Bitcoin-based payment solutions for merchants and businesses. The company had previously raised investments from various parties including Rakuten. The Japanese company was part of a $14.5 million investment round a couple of years ago.
After confirming the acquisition, the company has announced the launch of Rakuten Blockchain Lab in Northern Ireland. The Blockchain Lab, slated to open its doors on August 22, 2016 is expected to operate using the new-found resources of Bitnet (alongside its San Francisco office, Bitnet has been operating two offices in Belfast and Dublin.)
The acquisition doesn’t come as a surprise as there were reports regarding the plans making rounds in the business and media circles since the past one month. However, there was no definite confirmation available at that time as the deal was still in the negotiations phase.
Rakuten Blockchain Lab will be mainly involved in research and development of blockchain based applications for fintech and e-commerce sectors. The solutions created by Blockchain Lab will most likely be incorporated into the Japanese company’s operations.
Stephen Mc Namara, the co-founder and CTO of Bitnet will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the new Blockchain Lab. In a statement to the press, Mc Namara says,
“Given Rakuten’s reach into banking, payments and insurance, as well as a host of digital services, no one can doubt Rakuten’s position as a fintech leader… We’re looking forward to exploring and creating many new interesting applications of blockchain technology for Rakuten and their customers”
Stephen Mc Namara will be joined by his associate and Bitnet’s VP of Engineering, Fergal Downey.
Rakuten’s head of technology division, Yasufumi Hirai speaks about the benefits of Bitnet’s acquisition by saying,
“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.”
The resulting distributed ledger based solutions from Blockchain Lab will find an use in various aspects of Rakuten’s operations including inventory management, consignment tracking, payments in its ecommerce arm. Similarly, these applications will also find a place in the company’s banking, credit and payments services catering to both individual customers and businesses.
Ref: Official Blog | Image: Rakuten