Since September 2020, Rakuten users in Japan have earned an additional 500 billion Rakuten Points, taking the cumulative total to a staggering 2.5 trillion — equivalent in value to 2.5 trillion Japanese yen, or around USD 23 billion.
The Rakuten Points loyalty program has been around for nearly 20 years. So why has one fifth of all points been given out in the past 12 months?
Rakuten Points: Bringing an ecosystem together
One reason for this rapid acceleration lies in the Rakuten Ecosystem — Rakuten’s vast network of more than 70 services in Japan.
In one corner, Rakuten’s credit card business is growing like never before. In January 2021, users exceeded 21 million in Japan, with annual transaction volume topping 11 trillion yen — 1% of which is paid back to shoppers in the form of points. As of June, the total number of Rakuten Cards issued has surpassed 23 million.
In another, the recent launch of the Rakuten Mobile network has also seen a flurry of new point campaigns as the new carrier looks to attract subscribers — which recently topped five million.
At the same time, Rakuten’s e-commerce platform Rakuten Ichiba has seen astonishing growth as the stay-home movement encourages consumers to do more of their shopping online. The platform runs frequent sales and campaigns which allow users to earn more than the regular one point for every 100 yen spent — sometimes pushing the point-back ratio to over 40%.
Part of this point bonanza is thanks to Rakuten Ichiba’s innovative Super Point Up program, which rewards users with extra points on their purchases when they also use other Rakuten services — like the aforementioned Rakuten Card and Rakuten Mobile, as well as many other services such as Rakuten Travel, Rakuten Securities and Rakuten Bank.
In fact, it was revealed that nearly 74% of Rakuten users were reaping the benefits of the Rakuten Ecosystem by using more than one Rakuten service. Thanks to this, the average number of points earned per active Rakuten member has not just doubled, but tripled over the past 10 years.
More ways to earn, more ways to spend
The Rakuten Points loyalty program has been rewarding users of Rakuten services since 2002, allowing them to use their points across the Rakuten Ecosystem. But recent developments have boosted the program to new heights.
2016 saw the launch of the Rakuten Pay app, which allows users to spend their points not just on Rakuten services, but in place of cash at some five million supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants and other physical stores around Japan.
In 2018, Rakuten launched a service for users to effectively invest their points in the stock market, without the need for a securities account — an opportunity that five million Rakuten Point-lovers have jumped at. And since 2021, users have been able to exchange their points for cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin via Rakuten Wallet — free of charge.
With so many opportunities to earn and spend Rakuten Points, it’s little wonder that the program has been consecutively named the number 1 loyalty points program in Japan by overall customer satisfaction.