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Japanese Internet Giant Rakuten Launched $100 Million FinTech Fund

Japanese Internet giant Rakuten announced the official launch of its $100-million global FinTech fund to focus on investments in disruptive early to mid-stage FinTech startups. US and Europe will be the primary geographic focus of the fund with particular attention to FinTech in London, San Francisco, New York and Berlin. However, as stated in the press release, the Rakuten FinTech Fund plans to expand operations globally.

The fund is aimed to support entrepreneurs in the financial services industry along with providing them access to its divisions in online banking, credit cards, insurance, securities and asset management in Japan and internationally.

Managing Partner Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel, who will run the fund, commented on the importance of the emerging FinTech in the official press release, If you just look at the last couple of years, companies like Currency Cloud, WePay or Bitnet are great examples of disruption changing the landscape in payments and providing innovative solutions that address the fundamental needs of global customers. The Rakuten FinTech Fund is dedicated to helping these businesses accelerate disruption and innovation in historically more traditional and conservative markets.

In order to become the world’s largest Internet services company, Rakuten aggressively acquires some of the leading players in different segments. Only in 2015, Rakuten made four acquisitions, adding to the portfolio WTS, Fits.me, Voyagin and OverDrive.

A year earlier, Rakuten established New Technology Research Centers in Singapore and Boston to dive deep into research on mobile and social innovations and AI.

Previously, Rakuten has made successful investments in FinTech companies like Currency Cloud, WePay and Bitnet. FinTech investments by Rakuten were focused on exploring segments that would expand the company’s expertise. Among the investments mentioned earlier, it is Bitnet that will allow Rakuten to enable bitcoin payments for the company’s global business units.

There is a longer history of Rakuten being involved in a startup ecosystem. The FinTech fund is a natural continuation of the company’s collection of FinTech business units listed in the official press release: Rakuten Card, Rakuten Securities, Rakuten Bank, Rakuten Life Insurance. Each part of the business became a leading industry player and organically grew into the parent company it is today.

The $100-million Rakuten Venture fund launched in 2014 by Rakuten Ventures is another notable initiative to enlarge investments in startups across Israel, Asia-Pacific and the USA to continue the success of Southeast Asia fund that had companies like Carousell, Visenze, Coda Payments and Send Anywhere in its investment portfolio.

Among other significant investments that expanded the Rakuten family are Ebates, which was acquired for $1 billion in cash and Viber for $900 million in 2014.

Rakuten's race with innovations and emerging FinTechs led the company to the launch of Transfer by Facebook in Japan last year. The new service enables users to transfer money to anyone on their Facebook friends list utilizing the Rakuten Bank App.

As described on the official website of the company, Rakuten’s basic business philosophy calls for the empowerment of individuals and society through the Internet. Rakuten contributes to social innovation and enrichment by creating growth opportunities for as many people as possible through the provision of services that ensure a high standard of satisfaction for both users and partner enterprises.

About Rakuten, Inc.:

Rakuten, Inc. is one of the world's leading Internet services companies, offering a wide variety of services for consumers and businesses with a focus on ecommerce, finance and digital content. Rakuten is expanding worldwide and currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 12,000 employees worldwide. To learn more, click here.

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