Bitcoin rallies as Japan adapts cryptocurrency as legal tender

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Bitcoin’s value rose last week after it gained legal currency status in Japan and major retailers rushed to accept the cryptocurrency.

The virtual currency began last week at about US$1,100 per bitcoin. By Friday, the value of each bitcoin rose to nearly US$1,200.

Electronics chain Bic Camera and retail support company Recruit Lifestyle are now exploring accepting bitcoin as payment, a report from the Nikkei Asian Review said.

Bic Camera has partnered with Tokyo-based bitFlyer, the operator of Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange, and on Friday began a trial run of the exchange’s payment system at its flagship store in Tokyo’s Yurakucho district and at a hybrid shop it operates with clothing giant Uniqlo in Shinjuku. Bic Camera has 45 locations in major metropolitan areas around Japan.

Recruit Lifestyle, which develops the point-of-sale app AirRegi, has partnered with Coincheck, another Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange. Recruit Lifestyle may roll out bitcoin payments to its 260,000 partner stores this summer, the Nikkei reported.

Bitcoin gaining legal tender status in Japan follows Australia’s and New Zealand’s investigation into the official use of the virtual currency. Last December, the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) pushed for new standards for cryptocurrencies. Last November, a trans-Tasman task force was formed in New Zealand to tackle regulatory issues regarding the blockchain, the technology powering virtual currencies.

Law firms are also increasingly investigating opportunities from the rise of virtual currencies. Linklaters launched a program in December to teach lawyers coding and blockchain basics. US firm Steptoe & Johnson launched a full-fledged blockchain practice in August, hiring two veteran US government lawyers to run the group. 

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