Amazon competitor Rakuten is launching the Rakuten Blockchain Lab (RBL) in Belfast, UK, to explore potential applications for blockchain technology in fintech and e-commerce.
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Rakuten Sets Up Blockchain Lab
The establishment of RBL stems from Rakuten’s earlier investment in Bitcoin wallet and payments software firm Bitnet, a startup notable for its founding by former Visa executives.
Despite raising over $14.5 million USD in Series A funding in October 2014 (which included Rakuten) and garnering huge attention due to its “traditional” payments world heritage, it never really challenged existing big players like Coinbase and recently suffered high-level staff losses and cutbacks.
Rakuten will build RBL with Bitnet’s IP, two key staff and assets after buying what remained.
Yasufumi Hirai, Group Executive Vice President, CIO, CISO and head of the Technology Division, Rakuten, Inc., said:
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.