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Monday, May 16, 2016

Three Reasons You Should Start Getting Paid in Bitcoin

The Bitcoin Ecosystem Keeps Growing

Bitcoin is more than seven years old. In that time, it has become more mature, robust, and secure than anyone could have imagined at its inception. A few years ago, the rap against it was its instability, as if a new digital money for the world should find its value and never move. Surprisingly, the price has been fairly stable for the past year

If you’re unfamiliar with it, Bitcoin is a digital currency that exists as entries in a cryptographically secured, decentralized ledger called the blockchain. The technology is already being used by the largest money-center banks, with new applications scheduled to come online in the years ahead.

What’s been lagging has been the consumer market. Adoptions have slowed, mainly due to networked stickiness of existing payment systems. One way to break that trend would be to get more bitcoins into the hands of more people.

Many people have been reluctant to get paid in bitcoin because of price uncertainty. Also not enough retailers accept the currency. But times are changing. Here are 3 reasons why it’s time to start getting paid in bitcoin.

1. It’s easy to get paid

If your employer is open to paying you in bitcoin directly or you would like to provide that option to your employees, check out Bitwage. Bitwage provides several ways to pay employees and contractors in bitcoin or a variety of local currencies. Independent contractors can also use the service to bill their clients in local currency and receive bitcoin. 

A growing number of businesses are coming around, but your HR manager may not know the first thing about bitcoin. The best way to do something is to ask them about it! Talk to your co-workers about bitcoin and drum up some interest. Offering bitcoin payroll options is an easy way for business to add value to their employees without incurring additional cost, which is something every employer should be interested in.

If you want to get paid in bitcoin for your side gigs, you’re in luck. A growing number of freelance sites allow you to be paid in bitcoin, including Fiverr, Etsy, Codementor and others. If you accept payments from customers directly on your website, you can make it easy for them to pay you in bitcoin. Your options include posting a static bitcoin address, a variety of plugins for WordPress and other platforms, and payment buttons generated by a payment processor like BitPay or Coinbase.

2. It’s easy to spend

Governments aren’t much better at providing a currency than they are at anything else.

Just a couple years ago, only the truest of true believers would have considered trying to live on bitcoin. Those days will soon be behind us thanks to a growing number of establishments that accept payment in bitcoin directly. It’s not clear when we’ll be able to pull out our smartphones at Walmart and scan a QR code, but with over 100,000 merchants accepting bitcoin, including several large companies, it’s only a matter of time.

Openbazaar, the decentralized successor to the Silk Road, is out of beta and quickly becoming a robust market for everything from t-shirts to electronics to web hosting. In fact, you can download the open-source client right now and check out FEE’s Openbazaar store by searching for @FEEstore.

For those items that bitcoin can’t buy yet, people electing to be paid in bitcoin have a growing number of convenient options including the Visa prepaid debit card currently being offered by BitPay. As James Walpole from BitPay recently told FEE,

“The BitPay Card is the first prepaid Visa debit card available to bitcoin users in all 50 US states. What’s unique about this product is that users can top up US dollar balances from any bitcoin wallet or through direct deposit from their employers. Funds are credited instantly, with 0% fees for bitcoin top-ups, and they can be spent at any merchant that accepts Visa payments or withdrawn from any Visa-compatible ATM.

While our main goal is to get merchants everywhere to accept bitcoin payments natively, we wanted to use our payment processing technology to build this tool for bitcoin users in the meantime. Consumers who save bitcoin or receive a bitcoin salary need access to an instant, secure exchange method they can use on the go, with any bitcoin wallet, and wherever in the world they are. The BitPay Card provides that.”

A similar card can be obtained from Shift Payments. Although the Shift card can’t be loaded from any bitcoin wallet, it does connect to a Coinbase account.

3. Be a part of history

Governments aren’t much better at providing a currency than they are at doing anything else. In the U.S. the money monopoly in its fullest form has lasted more than one hundred years, and the money is less valuable, less useful, and less secure than ever.

As Friedrich Hayek said,

“I don’t believe we shall ever have a good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of government. We can’t take it violently out of the hands of government, all we can do is by some sly roundabout way introduce something that they can’t stop.”

Hayek didn’t live long enough to read the Bitcoin whitepaper, but if he had, he might have discovered the beginnings of the sound money he envisioned. By electing to be paid in bitcoin, you will be hastening the demise of the state’s monopoly on currency. Businesses will be slow to accept bitcoin directly until there is a demand from their suppliers (including suppliers of labor) to be paid in the digital currency. It’s time to start signaling that demand.

Fiat currency isn’t going to marginalize itself. Talk to your HR department and see if they can support bitcoin payments. Talk to your co-workers to generate interest. If you’re an employer, consider offering bitcoin payment as an option to your employees. The challenges faced by bitcoin users are getting smaller every day. It’s time.

  • Max is a PhD student at Georgia Tech studying nuclear engineering and was a content intern at FEE. His research interests include fusion reactor dynamics, technology commercialization, and the future of energy policy.