‘They Might As Well Be Getting Lottery Tickets’: Who Wants To Receive Their Salary In Bitcoin?!

‘They Might As Well Be Getting Lottery Tickets’: Who Wants To Receive Their Salary In Bitcoin?!

While we’re all just making shit up, let’s go ahead and opt to have our salaries paid in Bitcoin, ok?

Or better yet, let’s just agree to have our bonuses paid in coins that our bosses actually made up on their own.

That’s what’s going on and yes, it’s just as absurd as it sounds.


People seem to be taking the approach that if Bitcoin won’t act like a currency on its own, we can all just collectively will it to be a currency by doing currency-type stuff with it. It’s like how I can will a wild tiger into being a house cat if I just insist that’s what it is and then treat it as such.

For instance, Japanese firm GMO Internet is now offering employees the option to receive a portion of their salaries in Bitcoin.

“Employees can receive salaries by Bitcoin if they want to,” company spokeswoman Harumi Ishii told The Guardian adding that “we hope to improve our own literacy of virtual currency by actually using it.”

Right. And by that, she means GMO is trying to get into the Bitcoin mining and trading business. “The company started a Bitcoin trading and exchange business in May, and next month, it will join the so-called ‘Bitcoin mining’ business — gaining the right to receive new Bitcoins as a reward for helping keep the network secure by approving transactions,” The Guardian goes on to write.

To be sure, this isn’t an entirely new phenomenon and even if your employer isn’t feelin’ the crypto love, Bitwage can help you get paid in Bitcoin.

“These days a lot of people are looking to get part, and sometimes all of their salary paid in Bitcoin”, Bitwage founder Jonathan Chester told BBC this week. Apparently Chester converts 15% of his own monthly salary and believes it is “a way of accumulating Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies without worrying about whether you’re buying at the right time”.

See? It’s just dollar-cost averaging. With the caveat that unless your salary happens to get processed during a flash crash, you never buy at a lower price.

Here’s a sample Bitwage invoice:


Just to be clear, this is dumber than a bag of hammers. For one thing, this isn’t like choosing stock over cash bonuses during the early stages of some hot, VC-backed, non-public startup. That is, you can get paid in real money and then turn around and immediately just buy Bitcoin yourself, so it’s not at all clear why anyone would want to pre-commit to this if there’s no employer matching (like a 401k) or tax benefits. It kind of seems like this is just people effectively trying to force themselves to make a decision they know might be a bad one.

But it gets even sillier. Here’s BBC again:

At the Singapore based blockchain company TenX, staff usually have their base salary paid into their bank accounts, but their monthly bonus is paid in Pay tokens, the firm’s own digital currency.

The tokens, which can be traded on digital exchanges, were issued in an initial coin offering in June, allowing the company to raise $80m.

TenX co-founder and president, Julian Hosp, said it did not make sense to buy Bitcoin to pay bonuses when the company already had its own currency.

Yes, “it did not make sense” to pay bonuses in Bitcoin or in anything else that wasn’t Pay tokens, because after all, Hosp makes Pay tokens. It’s like how if Heisenberg hired 25 people next month, it “wouldn’t make sense” to pay them in anything other than Heisenberg dollars that I print on my ink jet.

Of course the simplest reason why this is a bad idea is because it is not clear whether digital currencies are actually worth anything or whether this is all just one big game of “who’s the greater fool?” And on that note we’ll close with the following assessment from Massimo Massa, professor of finance at INSEAD:

If an employee is receiving their salary in Bitcoin, they might as well be receiving lottery tickets. They are just participating in a game.


5 thoughts on “‘They Might As Well Be Getting Lottery Tickets’: Who Wants To Receive Their Salary In Bitcoin?!

  1. Dear Mr HeIsenberg,

    I have an important question:
    As a frequent reader I know your opinion on the several existing bubbles and agree with it. My question is this: is there only a problem with the bubbles because of overvalued assets and after they burst everything will be fine (like after the dotcom bubble in 2000) or there is also a problem with the underlying economy for certain reasons (high public debt, student loans, etc) like in 2008 when the real estate bubble burst and almost collapsed the economy because of underlying mortgages and home loans. Which of the two?
    Thank you for your opinion in advance.

    1. Look at some charts of consumer, corporate, and government debt. Also look at one illustrating wealth inequality. Maybe throw some demographics (age/labor) in there. None of it is good.

      The question is just how far can/will central banks and governments kick the can down the road.

      1. they currently think they can slow and reduce market liquidity, while debating the mystery of the missing inflation when unemployment is 4.1% (maybe bad inputs/stats perhaps?).

        if/when that doesnt work out just right, they will likely wind up again for a massive kick….just hope they dont pull a hammy!

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