Rakuten gets government approval for wireless operations

Rakuten Inc said on Monday it won government approval to offer mobile services as the Japanese e-commerce company expands its business into a market dominated by three major carriers.


Rakuten, which has also entered new areas such as online securities trading, aims to start offering mobile services in October 2019.

The government hopes a new entrant will intensify competition in a market led by NTT DoCoMo Inc, KDDI Corp and SoftBank Group Corp.

The last serious attempt by a Japanese company to break into their ranks was by eMobile, which entered the market in 2007. It gained four million subscribers before it was bought by SoftBank in 2013.

Rakuten is aiming to secure at least 15 million subscribers. By comparison, No. 3 carrier SoftBank has about 39 million subscribers.

In 2017, the Japanese online retail and services giant reported a 187.8% boom in its net profit during the full year, reaching 110.58 billion yen (830 million euros), thanks to good operational performances and exceptional gains made through its investment portfolio.

For 2018, Rakuten said it is aiming for "double-figure" growth in revenues, and is discounting operations relative to its financial services, which are highly dependent on market changes.

As for e-commerce, the group said it intends to continue growing its business, both in terms of volume and value, notably through bolstering sales of goods and services on mobiles and tablets. 

Additional reporting by Benjamin Fitzgerald

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