Since Japan started recognizing bitcoin as a method of payment, more Japanese are using the digital currency than expected. Bitcoin.com discussed this trend with Yuzo Kano, CEO of Bitflyer, the largest bitcoin exchange in Japan by volume.
Bitcoin Gaining Acceptance in Japan
On April 1, Japan started recognizing bitcoin as a method of payment, similar to prepaid cards and gift certificates. Since then, Bitcoin usage and awareness in Japan have been growing.
Among retailers that started accepting bitcoin in April were two Bic Camera stores. The Japanese consumer electronics giant partnered with Bitflyer to accept the digital currency. The news was heavily reported by mainstream media in Japan. Kano told Bitcoin.com:
“The news that big retail shop Bic Camera started accepting bitcoin from this April was reported on many TV programs, newspapers and websites and this news made many people interested in Bitcoin.”
Interest in Bitcoin has spiked among merchants in Japan and many other retail stores are considering accepting the digital currency. “We are expecting that some large retail shops and e-commerce sites will introduce bitcoin payment within this year,” Kano conveyed, adding that “more and more to come in the next year.” So far, he said:
“Thousands of shops have already applied [to accept bitcoin payments].”
Japanese Increasingly Using Bitcoin
Last week, Japanese national newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, which claims to have the largest circulation in the world, wrote that Bitcoin is “increasingly being used in Japan.”
For example, the publication reported that a popular conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Tokyo called Sushi-Bar Numazuko Ginza 1st is seeing a spike in bitcoin usage. While bitcoin was used only a few times a month two years ago at the restaurant, about 70 payments were made with bitcoin in March.
The restaurant also has a Bitcoin ATM inside. The fee for buying bitcoin there is 11.9 percent with the daily limit of ¥100000, according to Bitcoin ATM tracking website, Coinatmradar.
The restaurant manager told Yomiuri Shimbun:
“Japanese customers are using bitcoin more than we expected.”
Kano echoed the sentiment, telling Bitcoin.com that: “At the moment, we’ve heard that mainly Japanese users use Bitcoin payment. There are not many foreigners or tourists using Bitcoin payment.” Males between 20s and 40s show the strongest growth in Bitcoin usage, the CEO revealed. Bitflyer is also seeing a significant growth in its user base. “The number of customers has been growing rapidly since April 1,” he said, adding that currently “the number of our users is almost 600k.”
No FX Fees
There is also the added advantage of not having to pay foreign exchange (FX) fees when using bitcoin compared to when exchanging foreign currencies into yen. According to Yomiuri Shimbun:
“When foreign tourists exchange dollars and other currencies to yen, they are charged a commission of about 3 percent. However, if they use bitcoins, they do not need to exchange money or pay exchange commissions.”
In addition, the government has announced that, starting in July, purchasing bitcoins in Japan will no longer be levied consumption tax of 8 percent.