Prominent Japanese e-commerce site Rakuten has purchased intellectual property (IP) assets from Belfast-based bitcoin payment processor Bitnet and announced the opening of a blockchain lab, reports TechCrunch.
The news comes after a Wall Street Journal article in July said a deal could possibly be in the works. The amount paid for the assets is undisclosed.
Rakuten was among the investors in a $14.5 million Bitnet investment round that took place about two years ago. The online commerce heavyweight integrated the payment processor’s system into some of its e-commerce sites in March last year.
Bitnet, according to the TechCrunch article, was supposed to compete with bitcoin payment giants Coinbase and BitPay, but following resignations of a spate of executives and the startup laying off half of its staff to cut costs, it just could not grow its business. That led to this strategic asset-stripping move from Rakuten, says the article.
According to a Rakuten press release, the lab, which will be located in Belfast, will open on August 22 and will be a dedicated research and development organization within Rakuten. It will be focused on blockchain technology and its potential applications in the fintech and e-commerce sectors, said the release.
Rakuten is also among the world’s largest e-commerce sites by sales.
Joining the Rakuten Blockchain Lab will be Bitnet CTO Stephen McNamara and Bitnet engineering VP Fergal Downey.
Rakuten logo – Via their Media Room
Bitnet logo – Via their Media Kit