A Japanese company has taken the bold step of opting to pay their employees using Bitcoin. GMO Internet is a firm dealing in web-related matters. These include finance, advertising, and internet infrastructure. In an effort to get more familiar with cryptocurrency, they’re trialling its use as a payment method in a professional setting.
Employees at GMO Internet can opt to have up to 100,000 yen of their salary paid in Bitcoin every month. This is equivalent to around $900. The rest of their rate will be topped up with traditional currency. It’s also not compulsory, and workers at GMO Internet can still elect to be paid their entire paycheck in yen.
Harumi Ishii , a spokesperson for GMO internet told the UK’s The Guardian newspaper:
Employees can receive salaries by Bitcoin if they want to… We hope to improve our own literacy of virtual currency by actually using it.
Ishii estimated that around 4,000 workers at GMO Internet would be entitled to receive Bitcoin payments. RT News report that employees would even receive a bonus for receiving cryptocurrency. Workers can expect an additional 10% on top of their usual payment.
Outside of a few jobs in the fintech industry, this represents one of the first examples of a large company offering to pay all their employees in cryptocurrency. Back in 2014, a Canadian startup called WagePoint offered a service in which they offered clients the option to pay their employees using cryptocurrency. At the time, they estimated that they paid around $75,000 annually in Bitcoin. This is minuscule compare to the maximum $3.6 million a month which GMO Internet would pay out should every one of their employees opt for crypto payments. However, judging by the WagePoint’s website, the service has since been discontinued.
It won’t be the first dealings the GMO Internet have had with Bitcoin. They started a trading and exchange business back in May of this year. They are also planning on launching their own mining farm next month. Therefore, it makes perfect economic sense for them to pay their staff using the currency which they have obtained for much less than the market rate thanks to their mining operation. Rather than go through the effort of exchanging their freshly mined BTC for yen and then sending that out to employees, they can pay them directly with the cryptocurrency.
It’s hardly surprising that a Japanese company have been the first to trial paying employees in cryptocurrency. This year, the government there declared Bitcoin and other digital currencies legal tender. If GMO Internet’s pilot is successful, it seems likely that others will follow suit soon.