Rakuten Group, Inc., a leading technology conglomerate and owner of Rakuten Viber, Ukraine’s most widely adopted messaging and communications app, today announced that the Group has established an office in the heart of the country’s capital city, Kyiv, and plans to join Ukraine’s “Diia City” initiative to grow the country’s IT sector. The new Rakuten office opened its doors earlier today.
Three of Rakuten’s businesses – Rakuten Viber, Rakuten Advertising, and Rakuten Rewards – currently have software development and digital marketing operations concentrated in Kyiv and Odesa. The new Kyiv office will enable local contributors to work together to bring valuable technology products and services to users around the world, further cementing Ukraine’s reputation as an IT innovation hub.
Rakuten’s commitment comes after Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani recently accompanied Japanese government officials on a diplomatic mission to Ukraine in September 2023. Serving as a representative of Japan’s private sector, Mikitani met with Ukraine leaders including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for Innovation, Development of Education, Science and Technology and Minister of Digital Transformation.
Rakuten has provided consistent support to Ukraine throughout the war and demonstrated a commitment to its people, economy and post-war reconstruction. Among other actions, Rakuten signed a memorandum of understanding with VEON Ltd. (NASDAQ: VEON, Euronext Amsterdam: VEON) to collaborate on the reconstruction of the country’s infrastructure through open radio access networks (Open RAN) and digital services. Additionally, Rakuten launched the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Emergency Relief Fund through its online donation platform, Rakuten Clutch Special Charity Fund, and held a t-shirt donation drive to support Ukraine that raised more than 1.3 billion yen*.
Mikitani has also shown strong personal support for Ukraine on multiple occasions. At the war’s onset, he made a personal donation of 1 billion yen to the Ukrainian government for humanitarian aid. Last winter, he supported the donation and delivery of 500 power generators to Ukrainian citizens through the Samurai Donation Project. In recognition of his efforts and those of Rakuten Group, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Japan recently awarded Mikitani with the national Order of Merit for distinguished service*.
Rakuten's plans for its Kyiv location include additional hiring in the technology sector and appointment of a country manager to oversee local operations. One of these is expected to be the launch in Ukraine of Rakuten Viber’s digital wallet service, following its successful introduction in several European countries. This service will provide Viber users in Ukraine, where its app is installed on 98% of mobile phones, with enhanced financial accessibility, including the ability to send money in and out of the country through secure instant messaging transactions.
*1. Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Emergency Relief Fund: Approximately 1.29 billion yen
Charity T-shirt donation drive for Ukraine: Approximately 51 million yen
Both fundraising events ended June 30, 2022.
*2. Ukraine Order of Merit (Distinguished service), third class.