Celebrating a quarter century of optimism: Thoughts on the new year

Mickey Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten Group

First and foremost, I’d like to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year.

This year marks Rakuten’s 25th anniversary — 25 years of tremendous growth across e-commerce, sports, fintech, mobile and many other industries. Let’s take a brief look back at 2021 and the great progress achieved thanks to the commitment and hard work of all our employees, partners and the extended Rakuten family.

Global milestones: E-commerce, fintech and membership growth

In 2021, Rakuten’s gross transaction value (GTV) across the global Group companies reached $232 billion. This is astonishing growth. Global membership reached nearly 1.6 billion. Despite the waves of uncertainty driven by the COVID pandemic, our domestic e-commerce business achieved double-digit growth, reaching a new milestone of five trillion yen in annual gross merchandise sales (GMS)*1.

In our fintech services, the number of Rakuten cards issued surpassed 24 million, Rakuten Bank surpassed 11 million accounts, and Rakuten Securities surpassed seven million general securities customer accounts. In another milestone, our Rakuten Point loyalty program surpassed a cumulative total of 2.5 trillion points issued, as the Rakuten Ecosystem continues to expand its borders.

Mobile: Leading the way with world-first technology

Rakuten Mobile built the world’s first fully virtualized mobile network. At first, people questioned the feasibility of this project. They thought it would be almost impossible. But we got it done, with full-scale commercial launch in 2020. Now, we serve over five million subscribers and that number is growing daily.

But of course, our plan is not just to build another mobile network in Japan. We have three main objectives: One is for Rakuten Mobile to become a profitable business as a standalone service; the second is to promote synergies across the Rakuten Ecosystem; and the third is to offer our innovative, cost-effective software and mobile technology platform services to companies and organizations across the globe, through our Rakuten Symphony business.

25th Anniversary: Building a sustainable future together

Time flies like an arrow. We founded this company in 1997 and this year we celebrate our 25th anniversary.

Sustainability has become a major focus for people and organizations around the globe. At the same time as we have driven rapid expansion over the years, we have also been conscious of the potential technology holds to drive positive change in society. This year will be a milestone for us as we set our focus on how to leverage technology to contribute to the sustainability of the planet. Through the RE100 initiative, we have already set a goal of adopting 100% renewable electricity for all of Rakuten Group’s business operations. We are also working on initiatives to achieve carbon neutrality in the future.  

2022 promises to be a year of great change worldwide, and it will be an important year of transition and sustainable growth for the Rakuten Group as well — not just in the business sense, but in terms of our place in society as a whole. Industry leaders have a responsibility not only to drive business but also to bring continuity, security and happiness to their communities as well. This is encoded in Rakuten’s very DNA.

We will continue to do our very best to achieve ambitious goals and contribute to positive change through technology and business innovation.

Editor’s Note: *1 Domestic e-commerce GMS is the combined transaction amount for Rakuten Ichiba, Rakuten Travel (GTV on checkout basis), Rakuten Books, Rakuten’s golf business, Rakuten Ticket, Rakuten Fashion, Rakuten Dream businesses, Rakuten Beauty, Rakuten Delivery, Rakuten 24 (first-party business), Rakuten’s auto business, Rakuma, Rakuten Rebates, Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper, etc. between January and December 2021. (Based on preliminary figures.)

For more on Rakuten’s 25th anniversary, see the dedicated official site.

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