A year after the Japanese government recognized cryptocurrency as a legal form of money, bitcoin payments are steadily going mainstream. Bic Camera is one of the most profitable electronic, cosmetic and duty-free goods stores in Japan. It has now revealed that even though less than 1% of payments have been made in BTC since it started accepting bitcoin last year, the number of Japanese bitcoin spenders is slowly and steadily increasing, it observed.
Bic Camera’s Year-Long Relationship with BTC
Bic Camera started taking bitcoin in a limited capacity shortly after the Japanese government came up with new regulations around digital currencies and the exchanges that are handling them in April 2017. In an interview with news.Bitcoin.com, Masanari Matsumoto, Bic Camera’s PR and IR Chief, revealed that the average bitcoin spenders were younger Japanese males.
“When Bic Camera first installed the Bitcoin payment system in its stores, we expected that the customers paying in Bitcoin would mostly be foreigners,” he said. But it turned out to be quite different. “We noticed that Bitcoin was becoming very popular. Then the government announced that Bitcoin was officially legal, so we finally felt more comfortable introducing Bitcoin as a method of payment in our stores,” Matsumoto explained. “Bic Camera always aims at responding to its customers’ demands, and there was a huge demand at the time.”
When Bic Camera started taking BTC in April of 2017 at two of its largest stores in central Tokyo, they noticed an increase in demand from customers. They later expanded the option in their entire 40 stores nationwide and conducted a test overall to study who was using bitcoin. The results of this research showed that the Japanese sales were higher than foreign customers’ tax-free sales, Matsumoto explained. “We also asked our cashier staff to look out when they processed a Bitcoin payment, and we found out that the majority of Bitcoin users were Japanese males in their 30s.” They mostly bought computer tablets, digital cameras, small items, and alcohol, he added.
Bitcoin Payments Less Than 1% Compared to Fiat But Spenders Are Increasing Over Time
In 2017, Bic Camera made a profit of JPY 790 billion (USD 7,200,000,000). The percentage of bitcoin payments was less than 1% compared to payment in fiat, but the research also showed that the amount of bitcoin spenders is steadily increasing over time. Back in 2014, people in Japan and worldwide holding accounts in bitcoin exchanges were mostly non-Japanese. Reportedly less than 1% of Mt. Gox creditors were Japanese nationals.
“Back then, [when Mt. Gox’s scandal hit the news in February 2014] I think the average Japanese people’s opinion on Bitcoin was that it was something suspicious and shady, because it was associated with the darknet and crime,” Seiji Tashima (67), a retired computer engineer, extrapolated. “Bitcoin circulated a bad image in Japan and mostly, people simply didn’t know what it was. But now it’s different, probably because it made bad news at first then the government recognized it as a legal form of currency later.” The Japanese crypto community even offers training to seniors on how to invest in the industry.
Bic Camera says they are not concerned about security issues, as they partnered with Bitflyer, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchange and bitcoin payment processors in Japan. “Bitflyer stands between our company and our customers. We have faith in Bitflyer and we are confident. Furthermore, they are a cryptocurrency platform approved by the Financial Service Agency,” the Bic Camera PR and IR chief added. Although the recent Coincheck heist poured a cold shower on the general excitement, as JPY 58 billion (USD 530 million) in NEM cryptocurrency vanished, companies are still jumping into the industry. More than 100 companies have expressed an interest in running cryptocurrency exchanges, according to the government. At the time Coincheck was hacked, it wasn’t a government approved cryptocurrency exchange. Bic Camera will not be introducing any other cryptocurrency than BTC at the moment.
What do you think about Bic and the store’s experience with accepting BTC for over a year? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comment section below.
Images via Bic Camera, and Nathalie Stucky
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