In 2020, Rakuten (4755.T) joined Japan’s telecom sector, launching a mobile service network to compete in the market. Despite some success, the move significantly affected its finances. Rakuten Mobile faced hurdles, resulting in financial setbacks. The plan to create a cost-effective network using cloud-based software and affordable hardware met obstacles, leading to increased expenses, network disruptions, and reputational damage due to rushed deployment.

Consequently, Rakuten’s parent company suffered consecutive operating losses of about $5.5 billion over 13 quarters, coupled with upcoming debt obligations of $5.4 billion within two years. By 2024, Rakuten aims to break even for its mobile unit, relying on increased subscribers and average revenue per user (ARPU). Achieving this goal is challenging due to intense competition with aggressive pricing strategies. Nonetheless, Rakuten remains committed to its goals, seeking to refinance debt and bolster its financial standing amid potential economic uncertainties. Rakuten’s resilience partly comes from its thriving businesses: its core e-commerce competes with Amazon Japan, and its online financial services units continue to drive profits. To address financial concerns, Rakuten has taken steps since 2021, like issuing new shares, selling holdings in Rakuten Securities, and listing Rakuten Bank (5838.T), generating about 800 billion yen ($5.4 billion). Analysts suggest Rakuten Card might go public next due to its pivotal role in attracting customers with a points program connecting e-commerce to other services.