Bitcoin at Work
The shift is entirely optional, and the company is offering a range of entry points into the initiative. Starting in February, some workers will have the option of receiving as little as 10,000 yen (around $88) or as much as 100,000 yen (around $890) of their salaries in bitcoin. The offer will eventually expand to all of the company's more than 4,000 employees.
In May, GMO Internet debuted a bitcoin trading and exchange business, and in January, they will add a bitcoin mining business to their roster of services. The company is even planning to launch their own initial coin offering (ICO) for the GMO coin, which owners could use to purchase cryptocurrency, next-gen mining boards, or a piece of a cloud mining business.
GMO Internet believes this employee compensation program could help them become more familiar with bitcoin as they dive further into the cryptocurrency space. "We hope to improve our own literacy of virtual currency by actually using it," company spokeswoman Harumi Ishii told The Guardian.
Bitcoin has enjoyed a wild ride this year, surging in both popularity and value. At the beginning of 2017, prices hovered around the $1,000 threshold, but now, bitcoin sits well above the $18,000 mark. Expectations are high that it will surpass $20,000, possibly even before the end of the year.
Bitcoin is also gaining traction with businesses, which are helping to legitimize the crypto by accepting it as a valid form of payment. Still, bitcoin is now in an unprecedented position as a currency that's being used more as an investment than something to spend.
No one can really say, to any degree of certainty, what the future holds for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Some experts see this impressive year as just the growing of a massive bubble set to pop at any moment, while others believe the upward swings in value are ushering in a new era in finance.
GMO Internet is hoping to offset some of bitcoin's volatility by offering employees a 10 percent bonus if choose to receive a portion of their salaries in bitcoin. Employees that do could convert their bitcoin salary into traditional currency at any point or see where the bitcoin rollercoaster takes them.
Some analysts predict that bitcoin could continue soaring upward toward a value of $400,000, so employees willing to wait out any ups and downs could ultimately be heavily rewarded.
Bitcoin's path may be unwritten, but with every person or organization that decides to give it a go, the crypto's continued success becomes a bit more certain.
Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in a number of cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.