Since bitcoin was introduced as a payment instrument in Japan, more and more Japanese are using the digital currency than expected.
On April 1, Japan started recognizing bitcoin as a method of payment, similar to prepaid cards and gift certificates. Since then, the cryptocurrency 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, CEO of Bitflyer, the largest digital currency exchange in Japan by volume. told to reporters:
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 the cryptocurrency 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].
Last week, Japanese national newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, which claims to have the largest circulation in the world, wrote that the cryptocurrency 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 the digital currency 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 an ATM for the cryptocurrency inside. The fee for buying bitcoin there is 11.9 percent with the daily limit of ¥100000, according to the cryptocurrency ATM tracking website, Coinatmradar.
The restaurant manager told Yomiuri Shimbun:
Japanese customers are using bitcoin more than we expected.
There is also the added advantage of not having to pay foreign exchange (FX) fees when the digital currency is used 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 the cryptocurrency in Japan will no longer be levied consumption tax of 8 percent.
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