In a statement released earlier this week, Japanese budget airline Peach Aviation Ltd announced that it will add Bitcoin as a payment option for its customers before the end of 2017 – making Peach the first Japanese airline to accept the digital currency. In addition, the company has announced its intention to place Bitcoin ATMs at airports, to provide its customers with easier access to Bitcoin.
The statement noted that this decision was motivated at least in part by Japan’s recent move to legally recognize Bitcoin as a payment option. As part of its plan, Peach is reportedly pursuing stronger relationships with municipal governments and companies to foster greater awareness and acceptance of digital currency. Peach CEO Shinichi Inoue described his company’s efforts in remarks to reporters in Tokyo:
“We want to encourage visitors from overseas and the revitalization of Japan’s regions. This is a real first step in partnerships for Japan and we are aiming for more company and service tie-ups.”
While Peach Aviation’s adoption of Bitcoin is a first for Japanese carriers, it is also part of a larger trend in the Japanese business community that has seen two of the nation’s largest retail chains move to accept the world’s most well-known digital currency. Current estimates suggest that more than a quarter of a million Japanese stores will be accepting Bitcoin this year – a number that could grow by leaps and bounds in the future, as Bitcoin and other digital currencies continue to see increased popularity throughout Japan.