Over 5,000 retail stores and restaurants across Japan that currently accept bitcoin payments may suspend bitcoin use in their stores on August 1 if their bitcoin payment processors halt services.
Retail Stores May Suspend Bitcoin Payments
Ever since the Japanese government started recognizing bitcoin as a legal method of payment, a large and growing number of retail stores and restaurants have started accepting the cryptocurrency. However, “some Japanese retailers and restaurants that accept bitcoin are considering halting transactions using the digital currency, which faces a potential split amid competing plans for its future,” according to Nikkei on Thursday.
Restaurant chain Heichinrou and leading electronics retail chain Bic Camera accept bitcoin payments through Bitflyer, Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange by volume. They are both planning to stop accepting bitcoin should Bitflyer shut down its services, the publication detailed.
In addition, Nikkei reported that e-commerce site Bitcoinmall, which accepts digital currencies, is also considering suspending bitcoin transactions for several days beginning on August 1. “We will rely instead on monacoin and other virtual currencies for a while,” said Bitchange, the company which operates the site. Monacoin is an altcoin that has gained popularity in Japan.
Announcements by Bitflyer and Coincheck
Over 5,000 retail stores and restaurants accept bitcoin payments through either Bitflyer or Coincheck which offer payment services for merchants.
Bitflyer recently helped Bic Camera stores roll out a bitcoin payment option nationwide. Meanwhile, Coincheck claims to have helped over 5,000 stores accept the cryptocurrency and is in the process of helping over 260,000 stores nationwide accept bitcoin through a partnership with Recruit Lifestyle. Earlier this month, the two partners started rolling out bitcoin payments, starting with eyeglasses retail chain Meganesuper which has 334 locations.
Bitflyer posted a notice on Wednesday, stating that it may halt bitcoin deposits and withdrawals as well as its payment services on July 31 at 22:00 Japan time until about August 2. Coincheck separately announced on Tuesday:
On August 1, 2017, we may temporarily suspend bitcoin deposit and withdrawal for Coincheck exchange and payment services to protect users assets…The resume date is unspecified, but we expect several hours to several days. Also, if we decide that a Bitcoin fork will not take place on August 1, 2017, 12:00 am, the suspension of services will not happen.
Nonetheless, the exchanges are still prepared to suspend bitcoin services, should a network split occur.
Coincheck announced on Friday that “it is highly likely that ‘Bitcoin Cash‘ hard fork will happen around 9:20 pm (JST) on August 1st, 2017.” In addition, “On July 23, 2017, the event of a fork of the Bitcoin protocol may happen. Initially, it was intended to happen on August 1st, but it may happen faster than anticipated,” the exchange added. However, the suspension of services will not happen if Coincheck decides that a Bitcoin fork will not take place.
Retailers are expected to see little impact from halting bitcoin payments, since most of their business is conducted in cash or credit card, Nikkei concluded.
How do you think retailers will be affected on August 1? Let us know in the comments section below.