After Japan legalizes bitcoin, hundreds of thousands of retailers may soon accept it

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Following a move by the Japanese government to recognize bitcoin as a legal payment method, hundreds of thousands of retail outlets in the country look set to allow the use of the cryptocurrency as a payment option.

Two major Japanese retailers have signed deals to accept bitcoin. Electronics retailer Bic Camera Inc. announced that its outlets will start accepting payments by bitcoin for purchases of up to ¥100,000 ($905) on a trial basis. Recruit Lifestyle, the retail division of human resources conglomerate Recruit Holdings, in conjunction with Japanese bitcoin exchange Coincheck, will enable bitcoin payments at shops using the AirRegi point-of-sale application starting this summer. AirRegi is used by 260,000 retail locations around Japan although while bitcoin adoption will be available it will not be mandatory for retailers to take up the option.

The legislation that saw Japan recognize bitcoin as a legal payment method went into effect last week and not only recognized bitcoin but other types of cryptocurrencies as well. According to Investopedia, the amendment to the Japan’s Banking Act has far-reaching repercussions for the digital currency world as well as the way that cryptocurrencies can be traded and exchanged.

The amendment to the act defined a digital currency as “property of value,” meaning that it is usable for payment in the broader marketplace and that it may be bought or sold, but it distinguished digital currencies as being different from electronic money. “Digital currency, in this case, is not issued by a specific entity and may be used by any accepting individual, while electronic money can be linked to a specific issuer and can only be used by that issuer or persons specified by the issuer,” the report noted.

Bitcoin is said to be already accepted by over 4,000 stores in Japan, meaning that the announced deals will see a massive expansion in the land of the rising sun and may well see bitcoin become as regular a payment method as credit and debit cards.

Photo: aigle_dore/Flickr