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The Double-Edged Sword of Being Paid In Crypto


tokenist.com 21 December 2021 13:30, UTC
Reading time: ~5 m

Digital assets are recognized for their high price appreciations, which has prompted more and more employees, particularly young workers, to ask for the option of getting paid in crypto. However, it is worth noting that getting paid in crypto comes with some downsides, potentially acting as a double-edged sword. 

Companies Offer Payments in Crypto To Lure Young Workers 

A recent CNBC report claims that young workers are favoring companies that offer salaries in digital assets in a bid to get exposure to the booming crypto industry. For instance, Stephen Gerrits, a senior at Clemson University in South Carolina, has chosen to get paid in crypto in one of his part-time jobs. 

“Why not take the chance or the opportunity to kind of strike it rich, get some money out of it?” said Gerrits. He added that he might have earned more in crypto due to price appreciation. “I probably check it like three times a week,” he said, referring to his crypto account. 

Similarly, SharpRank, an independent cross-sport rating agency, uses crypto to attract talent. The company tries to lure “campus captains,” influential college students, by offering the crypto option. “We wanted to differentiate ourselves from the pack when they [prospective employees] looked at what we were doing as a startup,” said Chris Adams, SharpRank’s founder and CEO.

The same thing is also somehow present in sports. So fat this year, a number of top athletes have expressed their interest in getting paid in crypto. Back in August, Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi, when signing a contract with Qatari-owned Paris St Germain (PSG), agreed to receive a “significant” portion of his financial package in the club’s cryptocurrency fan tokens. 

Likewise, some National Football League (NFL) players are taking either entire or part of their salaries in crypto. For instance, NBL star Odell Beckham Jr. has accepted to take his full NFL salary in Bitcoin, while his peer Aaron Rodgers would only take part of his payment in crypto. 

This trend has even found its way to politicians, who have revealed that they are willing to accept BTC paychecks. Among these, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, New York Mayor-elect Eric Adams, and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, who are viewing crypto as an innovation, stand out. 

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Upsides and Downsides of Getting Paid in Crypto 

When considering accepting crypto as payment in the US, employees should pay attention to state laws and other legal obligations. For one, employees are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which mandates employers to pay wages “in cash or negotiable instrument payable at par.” It remains unclear whether digital assets are included in this criteria. 

Nonetheless, if an employee proceeds to accept their salary in crypto, they will be subject to some clear advantages. Here are the most notable ones:

  • Crypto payments cut out the middleman and additional fees charged by the likes of Visa.
  • 24/7 availability and no payment suspensions
  • If held, they could appreciate in value.
  • More privacy.
  • No chargebacks.

However, as noted above, accepting crypto as a salary is a double-edged sword. Here are some drawbacks:

  • No legal protection.
  • Crypto is subject to extreme volatility, meaning that funds can depreciate sharply within a short span of time.
  • Technical and UI/UX issues.
  • The crypto market is also subject to harsh regulation.

Considering all of this, a user should decide if accepting a portion or all of the salary in crypto is a smart move. Meanwhile, it is worth noting that top talents from various industries are dabbling in crypto.

Talent Is Leaving Tech Giants For Crypto Firms

A report by the New York Times reveals that executives and engineers of top tech companies, including Google, Meta, and Amazon, are leaving their jobs to join crypto startups. Just recently, Sandy Carter, former vice president of Amazon’s cloud computing unit, quit her job and joined Unstoppable Domains, which sells website addresses that reside on the Etheruem blockchain.

Moreover, Brian Roberts, who was working as the chief financial officer of Lyft, left the company to join OpenSea, the leading NFT marketplace. “I’ve seen enough cycles and paradigm shifts to be cognizant when something this big is just emerging,” he said, adding that NFTs are poised to have a large impact on our future world. 

Noting the increasing competition for talent, Sridhar Ramaswamy, chief executive of search engine startup Neeva and a former Google executive, said:

“There is a giant sucking sound coming from crypto. It feels a bit like the 1990s and the birth of the internet all over again. It’s that early, that chaotic and that much full of opportunity.”

As top talents join crypto firms, investors proceed to pour money into the space with more confidence. This describes the $28 billion investment that was poured into crypto initiatives in 2021 alone. For perspective, that figure is 4x more than the number poured into crypto firms in 2020.

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