GMO, a Japanese telecommunications company that provides Internet services for all kinds of customers, has announced that they will start offering partial salaries to be paid to its employees in bitcoin. The company made the announcement on the 12th of December this year.
Bitcoins growing adoption in Japan
According to articles in CNBC and Business Insider, among others, a large portion of bitcoin investors are from Japan. Specifically, a recent report from Deutsche bank sites that it is Japanese men in their 30s and 40s that make up to 40 percent of bitcoin trading volumes.
Other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash have also seen rapid adoption across the country, not only for investments but also as a transactional currency for purchases at stores and online. Bitcoin still appears to be the king in Japan, however.
Partial salaries in bitcoin
In the press release that GMO released, they stated that employees may choose to receive between ¥10,000 and ¥100,000 of their salary in bitcoin using the exchange rate at the GMO coin Exchange. In US dollars, that’s about $90-$900.
So, why are they doing this? The press release goes on to state that the company wants to contribute to the growth of cryptocurrencies by promoting various initiatives within the space. Specifically, they feel that owning bitcoin will be one of the largest sources of positive movement that they can contribute directly.
To help facilitate these kinds of payments, a number of payroll service companies have popped up and are offering to help with crypto salary payments. Some of them include BitWage, BitPay, and Wagepoint.
In a Delloite piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, author Eric Piscini noted that using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a method of paying staff could open doors for better freelance and project-based hiring over the Internet.
While this has been going on for some time, the GMO announcement is significantly different because it applies to locally hired full-time employees. It is also only offered as an option and not a requirement. GMO employees could very well opt to not get involved in bitcoin at all.
Wider impact on the economy of large
What we have seen over the past few decades, is that a large number of trends that appear in Japanese society have a tendency of migrating to other countries. If more large companies like GMO begin to offer bitcoin salaries, it is highly possible that this could encourage other big players in different industries to follow suit.
Large retailers especially could take advantage of this. For example, if a large retailer like Amazon.com were to begin accepting bitcoin as payment, they could then choose to turn around and pay employees in whole or in part in bitcoin.
Doing so could lead to massive savings for the company. This could be doubly so if bitcoin values are continuously on the upward trend. The company could end up needing to pay out less money for salaries overall.
Whether this will happen or not it’s still up for debate though. Often times these trends from Japan can take 5 to 10 years to form roots in other culturally distinct areas.