Rakuten Acquires Bitnet, Plans to Open Blockchain Lab in Northern Ireland

Rakuten, Inc. announced the opening of the Rakuten Blockchain Lab (R.B.L.) in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, planned for August 22, 2016 on its website and blog. R.B.L. will be a dedicated research and development organization within Rakuten, focused on blockchain technology and its potential applications in the fintech and e-commerce sectors.

Fergal Downey“We are delighted that Rakuten have chosen to open their new Blockchain Lab here in Belfast.  There are so many great opportunities for blockchain technologies inside Rakuten and the newly created lab will be instrumental in delivering new and innovative solutions” said Fergal Downey, VP of Engineering of the new Rakuten Blockchain Lab.

The establishment of R.B.L. follows the acquisition by Rakuten of IP assets from Bitnet Technologies Ltd., operators of a digital payments platform powered by blockchain. R.B.L. day-to-day operations will be headed up by Chief Technology Officer Stephen McNamara and VP of Engineering Downey, both of whom will join from Bitnet.

Stephen Mc Namara“Given Rakuten’s reach into banking, payments and insurance, as well as a host of digital services, no one can doubt Rakuten’s position as a fintech leader,” observed McNamara. “We’re looking forward to exploring and creating many new interesting applications of blockchain technology for Rakuten and their customers”

The Lab will be part of Rakuten’s Ecosystem Services organization under its Technology Division, which is led by Fernando Paulo, Executive Officer, Rakuten, Inc.

Yasufumi Hirai“Drawing on the significant IP assets and deep engineering expertise of the Bitnet team and combining that with Rakuten’s leadership in fintech and support of innovative solutions, the new Rakuten Blockchain Lab will be our first step toward unlocking blockchain’s potential to revolutionize the way that financial and e-commerce transactions are conducted,” added Yasufumi Hirai, Rakuten Group Executive Vice President, CIO, CISO and Head of the Technology Division.  “It’s quite possible that in the near future blockchain will revolutionize the way that financial and e-commerce transactions are conducted. We want to not only prepare for that change, but take a leading role in making it happen.”


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