Japanese department store Marui has begun testing bitcoin payments across its stores, as the currency continues to gain support throughout the Japanese retail sector.
The decision will see customers presented with the option to make payments in bitcoin for a wide range of purchases, initially at a single outlet in Shinjuku.
The test is being run in partnership with bitcoin exchange bitFlyer, and will enable purchases up to the value of 100,000 yen – or roughly $900 – to be completed via the digital currency.
The trial period is scheduled to last until October 31, and if successful could become a standard mechanism for payments across the Tokyo-based company’s department stores nationwide.
With locations across Tokyo and Kyoto, the announcement of the trial could see bitcoin gain prominence throughout the region, at a time when an increasing number of Japanese retail firms are looking more closely at accepting payments in the currency.
The move follows similar announcements from leading Japanese electronics retailer Bic Camera, which embarked on similar trials across its stores in recent weeks.
The Bic Camera trial proved so successful that it will now be rolled out across their retail network, off the back of strong customer demand.
Marui executives will be hoping for a similar experience with the currency, at a time when bitcoin is becoming more widely embraced by Japanese consumers.
This comes in stark contrast to the position in the US and much of Europe, where initial bitcoin trials have failed to spark similar levels of interest amongst customers.
However, with more widespread awareness in Japan, the domestic market has seen strong support for these initial trials, which looks set to continue in the weeks and months to come.
Bitcoin payments enable consumers and merchants to transact directly, without relying on third party providers to process payments, while ensuring a greater degree of privacy outside traditional payment infrastructure.
While both the Bic Camera and Marui trials have been organized in conjunction with bitFlyer, the choice of bitcoin payment affords significantly reduced transaction costs, in addition to a range of other benefits that come with digital payments.