Mercari operates the huge marketplace “Mercari,” which is used by over 23 million users per month and where 8 items are traded every second. In March 2023, we launched a Bitcoin trading service and have provided a new digital experience to many individuals who are unfamiliar with crypto assets (virtual currencies).
In the seven months since its launch, the number of users of the Bitcoin trading service has exceeded 1 million. Considering that the number of crypto asset accounts in Japan increased by approximately 1.35 million accounts from March to September 2023, it is clear how Mercari’s Bitcoin trading service is able to acquire new customers.
In 2024, Mercari will launch a service that allows users to use their Bitcoins to shop on the Mercari marketplace. This was revealed in an interview by Keita Nakamura, CEO of Melcoin, a subsidiary of Mercari that develops blockchain-related services. Among users of Bitcoin trading services, approximately half of them shopped on Mercari after selling their Bitcoins, and we determined that there was a need for this service.
This service is not an on-chain transaction on the blockchain, but when a user purchases a product using Bitcoin held on Mercari, the Bitcoin is sold behind the scenes and the sales amount is paid to the seller. something like.
“Going back to the origins of Bitcoin, an electronic currency system invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, and now that so many people own Bitcoin, I want them to actually use it (as currency) next time. I think that by using it, people can deepen their understanding of Bitcoin,” Nakamura explains.
Comparing Mercari and Jack Dorsey’s Block Inc.
Mercari, whose corporate vision is to “expand people’s potential,” is often compared to Block (formerly Square) in the US, run by Jack Dorsey.
Mercari is expanding its business, with the marketplace Mercari as its core, Merpay, which handles smartphone payment services, and Melcoin, which provides services related to blockchain and crypto assets such as Bitcoin.
Block, whose slogan is “Empower the individual,” provides the payment system “Square” to sole proprietors and shop owners operating cafes and restaurants, while also providing financial support for individual users. Developed the app “CashApp”, which has over 50 million users (monthly users).
Mr. Dorsey, who continues to insist on the superiority of Bitcoin, not only introduced Bitcoin transaction services to CashApp, but also established two subsidiaries, Spiral and “, to expand the use of the Bitcoin blockchain. We are launching “TBD”. Looking at Block’s financial report, Bitcoin-related net revenue accounts for over 40% of total net revenue.
“(Regarding the future increase in Bitcoin-related revenue), I think it’s possible for Mercari to do so in the future. However, rather than moving forward with simple remittance and payment services, we will continue to expand the marketplace itself to its current level. I would like to take on the challenge of incorporating the digital realm from the physical realm,” says Nakamura.
The next generation of “Mercari” and a marketplace where digital assets are bought and sold
As the development of the Metaverse and Web3 games progresses, and the use cases for tokens used in those worlds are expected to increase, the need for a digital marketplace that can trade tokenized items on the blockchain will increase. Mr. Nakamura came up with a concept.
We are also considering handling “tokenized RWA (RWA stands for Real World Asset, meaning an asset that exists in the real world)” on Mercari, which is a hot topic in the global blockchain industry. ing.
Major financial institutions in Europe, America, Japan, and Singapore are tokenizing financial assets such as land and bonds, and are using blockchain and smart contracts to automate and streamline some of their banking, remittance, and asset management operations. project is underway. These are collectively referred to as “tokenization of RWA,” and RWA includes real estate, government bonds, corporate bonds issued by companies, and gold.
“Rather than RWA in terms of financial security (securities), we would like to take on the challenge of RWA in a broader sense in order to increase the liquidity of things on Mercari.For example, There are many products that are often traded in the market…There are many things that you would like to own but don’t need to use, or that would be beneficial if you dared to own them digitally.” (Mr. Nakamura) )
Currently, physical goods are mostly bought and sold by domestic users on Mercari, but if digital assets such as digital items and content (tokens) are traded, Mercari will quickly become a global marketplace. can be transformed.
“In the end, if such a world were to exist, it would be natural for people to think that they should use P2P (peer-to-peer) crypto assets like Bitcoin rather than making payments in multiple different fiat currencies, and that this would be the next step after the Internet. I think this will be the next step,” Nakamura said.
What should we do about Africa and the Middle East, which are excited about Web3?
Over the past few years, known as the “crypto boom,” countless crypto assets, NFT projects, and even organizations operating DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) have deliberately inflated the price of tokens in pursuit of large profits. Speculative movements were evident. After that, many tokens lost their value.
Nakamura says, “I think that gradually, essential and meaningful digital content (tokens) will emerge.” “In my mind, I would like to handle more essential content on Mercari that conveys the meaning of the utility of NFTs.”
In 2023, many investors and venture capitalists investing in crypto assets and blockchain areas have shifted their targets to the Middle East, centered on Saudi Arabia, and the African market, led by Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.
In response to this movement, Mr. Nakamura said, “The wave of crypto and Web3 is moving toward the Middle East, and we need to think about our approach a little,” and added, “There are things like undiscovered value. are sleeping all over the world.Mercari will celebrate its 10th anniversary in February 2023, and we have formulated a new group mission of “Circulating all values and expanding the possibilities of everyone.”We call it a digital marketplace. Once we have a baseline for Mercari, I think we can begin a journey around the world to pursue the hidden value and potential that lies within.”
Mr. Nakamura joined Mercari as a new graduate after continuing research on “negotiation AI” (negotiation between AI and AI, AI and humans) and consensus algorithms at a university in Aichi Prefecture. Through a business model that makes money with money, he believes that it is not a system where only a few people can build huge assets, but a marketplace where value can be genuinely transmitted and traded, and where everyone’s potential can be expanded. He said he would like to continue developing this.
｜Interview/Text: Shigeru Sato
｜Photo: Airi Okonoki
｜Interview cooperation: Koki Mizuno