Since our foundation in 1997, it has been our corporate mission to empower people and society through the Internet, while aiming to become the No. 1 Internet services company in the world.
Rakuten is the global pioneer of “Rakuten Ichiba” the unique B2B2C e-Commerce marketplace, which provides the platform to connect merchants and consumers. In addition, the Rakuten Group has developed a “Rakuten Ecosystem” by expanding into a diverse array of one-stop online services in Japan, including “Rakuten Travel” our online travel reservations site, “Rakuten Card”, our credit card business which accelerates our e-Commerce business, “Rakuten Bank”, Japan’s largest Internet bank, and “Rakuten Securities” which offers a variety of securities products and convenient trading tools. In addition, our digital contents business has expanded with the innovative and globally growing video streaming service Viki, which newly joined the Rakuten Group, as well as eBook company Kobo.
In 2013, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles baseball team won the Japan Series for the first time in its 9 year history. Thanks to this, the penetration of the Rakuten brand has accelerated further, and e-Commerce users became more active, resulting in our gross transaction value in 2013 reaching JPY 5.1 trillion. To improve our brand value further and expand the class of investors, Rakuten changed its listing from the JASDAQ market to the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in December 2013, and established a sponsored American Depository Receipt (ADR) program. To show our appreciation to shareholders for their continued support for our first professional baseball championship and the TSE First Section listing, we decided on a commemorative dividend payment, and introduced a shareholders benefit program.
From 2014, social change beyond conventional limits is expected worldwide, and the Internet in particular, with the spread of cloud services and smart devices available anytime, anywhere, the social infrastructure of society will become ever more important. Rakuten is entering a new growth stage from 2014 along with an expected acceleration in the evolution of the Internet industry, as we construct a truly global Rakuten Ecosystem based on our 3 core pillars; e-Commerce, Internet Finance, and Digital Contents. Guided by our unique corporate philosophy of empowering people and society through the Internet, we hope to continue to grow the Rakuten Group globally and to raise shareholder value.
I look forward to the continued support of our shareholders and investors.