In June, the popular online flea market, Mercari Inc., is expected to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's Mothers section, which is reserved for high-growth startup companies. According to an article in the April 18 Asahi Shimbun the value of the company's stock at the time of the listing could exceed ¥200 billion ($1.8 billion), making it the highest new listing of the year on Mothers. The company hopes to use the funds to expand into overseas markets.

Mercari, which has been in business since 2013, is one of the most successful Japanese startups of the decade. The concept is simple. People who want to sell items they no longer need can post those items on Mercari and other people can buy them directly from the seller in a peer-to-peer arrangement. Transactions can even be carried out through a stand-alone app, which means buyers and sellers can use the service via their mobile devices.

Unlike auction-type sites such as eBay, the seller sets the price (though buyers can bargain). Sellers also handle the shipping themselves. Mercari adds a surcharge for its role in the sale. When a transaction occurs, it withdraws money from the buyer's preregistered account but does not transfer it to the seller's account until after the buyer receives the item and evaluates it. When everyone is satisfied, the seller receives the money. Basically, Mercari is a kind of market space where vendors set up shop. But unlike conventional online shopping malls, like Rakuten, anyone can be a vendor as long as they become a member, even if they're only selling one item.