Japan's electronics retailing giant Bic Camera Inc. said on Wednesday that it will start accepting payments in virtual currency bitcoin at two of its outlets in Tokyo from Friday in a bid to attract more foreign customers.
The payments will be accepted for purchases of up to 100,000 yen (some 900 U.S. dollars) at the BICQLO Shinjuku East store near Shinjuku Station and at the Yurakucho store in Chiyoda Ward in downtown Tokyo, said the retailing giant.
The company said that it made the decision in response to requests from foreign customers, and will decide whether to expand the service to other stores after gauging the demands in the two trial stores.
Bic Camera will be the first major retailer in Japan to launch the bitcoin payment service, though the service is already available in 4,500 outlets in Japan, including bars, cafes and restaurants, according to local reports.
Bitcoin is a major digital currency without ties to any bank or government. It is underpinned by blockchain technology, a digital ledger system that uses cryptography.
Credibility of the virtual currency has been a concern to many people, especially after the sudden shutdown in 2014 of the Japanese bitcoin exchange MtGox Co..
The virtual currency has also raised controversy over its potential use for money laundering and capital flight, as it allows users to spend and transfer money anonymously.
Japan revised its law last year to regulate the dealings of virtual currencies including bitcoin, so as to prevent their use in terrorism or money laundering and protect the interests of the owners.
According to the revised law, virtual currencies could be used for settlement. But exchanges dealing virtual currencies shall be registered with the Financial Services Agency.