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Japanese Company Offers to Pay Workers in Bitcoin

Topics: Current Events

Technology has changed the way we live, work and spend money in profound ways over the course of the last few years.

New methods for buying and selling goods — like PayPal and Apple Pay, for example — have gone from revolutionary to commonplace.

Things are moving and changing so fast that it can be difficult to keep up. For example, you may have heard of Bitcoin. You might even have heard stories about people who invested in the digital currency and made a killing. But, do you really know what it is and how it works?

It might be a good idea to learn. One Japanese firm is even offering it as a salary option in 2018.

Understanding Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency. It’s a worldwide payment system that exists outside of the bounds of a central bank or a single administrator. Created in 2009, it’s the world’s first decentralized digital currency. It isn’t tied to any country or government, and it doesn’t exist in a physical form, like paper money. The currency is stored in a “digital wallet” that exists online.

As new (and maybe scary) as all this sounds, it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t the first time that currency, as a system, has undergone major changes. Money used to be linked to actual metals, like gold and silver. Paper money, whether it was linked to those values or not, must’ve felt strange initially. Other systems have also existed throughout history, like bartering, for example. While our current monetary system might seem fixed, it does have the potential to shift in significant ways.

Right now, the future of the currency is still in question. It’s still a largely unregulated system. Concerns about taxation issues, lack of stability and government control abound.

Bitcoin Salary Options

Despite Bitcoin’s uncertain future, one Japanese company, GMO Group, which runs a host of web-based businesses, is offering their employees the option to take part of their pay in the currency in the year ahead.

The company will offer their 4,000 employers this cutting-edge salary option beginning in early 2018. The organization hopes to gain a better understanding of how the currency works through this experiment.

“Employees can receive salaries by Bitcoin if they want to,” Harumi Ishii, a spokeswoman for the company, tells The Guardian. “We hope to improve our own literacy of the virtual currency by actually using it.”

However, some feel that employees who take this option are also taking on a pretty big risk. Depending on market fluctuations, workers could lose pay value quickly.

“If an employee is receiving their salary in Bitcoin, they might as well be receiving lottery tickets,” Massimo Massa, professor of finance at the Business School of the World (INSEAD) tells Express UK.  “They are just participating in a game.”

Despite Bitcoin’s recent uptick in value and popularity, it’s future remains unclear. However, the fact that GMO Group is offering their employees this salary option marks an important step in the journey, whatever the end result may be.

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