Less than a year after Japan legalized bitcoin as legal tender, part of the country’s effort pioneering effort to develop a comprehensive regulatory framework for incorporating - and regulating - digital currencies, one Japanese company is offering employees the option to be paid in bitcoin.
Because what employee wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to see their weekly paycheck fluctuate by 30% or more. Though given the digital currency’s staggering appreciation so far this year, we imagine most of the company’s workers will instead see it as an opportunity to lock in a raise every week.
The company, Internet service provider GMO Internet, plans to offer workers up to 100,000 yen (about $890) per month in the digital currency, according to Russia Today.
"Employees can receive salaries in bitcoin if they want to. We hope to improve our own literacy of virtual currency by actually using it," company spokeswoman Harumi Ishii said.
The company said the offer would be available to nearly 4,000 of its domestically-based employees. As a further enticement, the workers will reportedly get an extra 10% of their salary if they choose to receive it in digital currency.
This detail certainly piqued our interest. Bitcoin is, of course, tremendously volatile. But for the past 18 months, that trend has been mostly one-directional (which isn’t to say there haven’t been many significant downturns).
While the company has depicted itself as a bitcoin evangelizer, offering employees a 10% bonus - a significant sum spread across 4,000 employers - seems suspiciously generous.
The company said it’s interested in promoting bitcoin after joining a trading and exchange business in May and is planning to launch a new cryptocurrency mining operation next year.
“We will operate a next-generation mining center utilizing renewable energy and cutting-edge semiconductor chips in Northern Europe,” a representative for GMO said, according to Russia Today.
The firm, which is headquartered in Tokyo, operates over 60 companies in 10 countries. Given the group’s size and financial power, the bitcoin salary initiative may potentially boost the mainstream adoption of similar practices worldwide.
While many skeptics argued that bitcoin would never work as a currency (indeed, transactions can sometimes take hours to clear). Segwit 2x, the bitcoin software hard fork that was intended to relieve some of the strain on the bitcoin network, was proposed specifically to remedy this problem.
Earlier this week, we highlighted a listing on real-estate site Redfin.com where the owner of a Miami condo specified that he would only accept payment for the property in bitcoin. Redfin said it was the first time it has observed such a demand on its platform, though twitter users quickly pointed out other examples dating back to 2013.
Given the digital currency’s performance this year, bitcoin has firmly broken into the mainstream. And with the Cboe having launched its new bitcoin futures products, firms like GMO will find it easier to hedge their positions. CME Group will launch a suite of similar products next week.
Indeed, two years ago, the notion that a mainstream company would offer employees the option to be paid in bitcoin was almost unthinkable.
But barring a major crash, we imagine this trend will continue.