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Crypto payments firm Bitwage has announced a partnership with a payroll company based in Texas. The partnership with Simply Efficient HR, a professional employer organization, is geared towards enabling companies to pay staff in cryptocurrency.
While Bitwage currently serves an estimated staff base of 20,000 through partnerships with 45 companies, the new link-up with Simply Efficient HR will expand their offering considerably throughout the US. And the new partnership will mean that salaried individual workers will be able to receive their monthly income in Bitcoin or, further down the line, other cryptocurrencies, increasing the offering beyond contractors – as was previously the case.
CEO of Bitwage Jonathan Chester explains that the main drive behind the latest initiative is to help those companies that earn significant amounts in cryptocurrency. For these companies, accountancy and payroll systems have historically been a struggle, as available systems are geared towards fiat.
“Companies with banking issues using cryptocurrency could only hire employees as contractors, because paying taxes on behalf of W2 employees in fiat was impossible. This new product release changes this… We are enabling BTC or ETH to be a part of this. The BTC or ETH gets converted into fiat to be able to interact with these traditional systems. The worker can choose to receive a portion of their wage in BTC at the end as well.”
Payments in cryptocurrency date back several years now. At the end of 2017, Japanese firm GMO Internet offered workers the chance to opt in to a crypto salary scheme, with 10% incentives for those staff members who chose to take them up on the opportunity. The initiative was initially criticized when presented in its infancy, as it failed to outline any protection for workers against the potential volatility of Bitcoin.
Of course, there are now automatic exchange options, so that workers don’t suffer from unexpected crashes. And Bitwage is also looking into expanding their offer – currently only available in Bitcoin – to Ethereum as well. As more and more businesses apportion certain amounts of their earnings to virtual currencies, the potential market for crypto payment services will expand.
However, it remains to be seen if non-crypto based companies will be interested in offering to their employees an investment scheme involving crypto. It is likely that the leading cryptocurrencies would need to demonstrate less volatility before this would be considered.
Bitwage was founded in 2014. According to a Coindesk report, Chester says it is currently staffed by 11 full-time employees, some of whom get up to 15% of their wages in crypto.
In 2015 the company raised $760,000 from France’s largest telecommunications company, Orange, and Draper Associates. Draper also invested $1.25 million in a competitor, OpenNode, which runs on the Lightning Network.