Photo: (R-L) Pierre Gramegna, Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance, and Masayuki Hosaka, Representative Director and Vice Chairman of Rakuten and head of the group’s fintech businesses, at the Embassy of Luxembourg (Image courtesy of the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office - Tokyo)

Rakuten’s mission to empower individuals and businesses is at the core of each of the more than 70 services it offers. After acquiring a European payments license in 2014 and a banking license in 2015, Rakuten is now expanding into the European fintech sector to deliver on this mission, with the opening of the Rakuten Europe Bank (REB) announced this month.

Based in Rakuten’s European head offices in Luxembourg, a vibrant global financial center, REB’s mission, according to CEO Toshihiko Otsuka, is “to empower small and medium-sized businesses, support fintech and enable the Rakuten Ecosystem in Europe.”

REB CEO Toshihiko Otsuka toasts the launch of commercial operations of REB at the Embassy of Luxembourg

REB CEO Toshihiko Otsuka toasts the launch of commercial operations of REB at the Embassy of Luxembourg

To do this, REB will provide payment, deposit and loan services initially to merchants on Rakuten’s PriceMinister marketplace in France, and to other Rakuten Group marketplaces in Europe in the near future.

REB also plans to offer solutions to new and high-growth fintech ventures in Europe, which often face difficulties accessing even basic banking services from traditional financial institutions.

It will also become the banking platform for Rakuten Group’s businesses in Europe, helping to support the development of the Rakuten ecosystem in the region.

Speaking at a ceremony celebrating the official launch of REB’s commercial banking services held on January 11 at the Embassy of Luxembourg in Tokyo, Pierre Gramegna, Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance, expressed his pleasure at being able to welcome a new bank to the nation. Highlighting the uniqueness of Rakuten’s background as a leading e-commerce company and fintech innovator, he noted that REB will be “a valuable addition to Luxembourg’s thriving fintech ecosystem and contribute to foster innovation in the financial center.”

2016 was a year of remarkable growth for Rakuten’s fintech businesses, in particular Rakuten Card, which has become the third largest credit card company in Japan by transaction value, so there are high hopes for international expansion. At the REB opening ceremony, Masayuki Hosaka, Representative Director and Vice Chairman of Rakuten and head of the group’s fintech businesses, said “We have high expectations of success to match the growth we have enjoyed in fintech here in Japan.”