Fred Schebesta, a successful entrepreneur and renowned figure on the start-up scene, says this has to change if organisations want to remain relevant in the very near future.
“It’s super important for New Zealand employers, and employers all over the world, to understand cryptocurrency,” he tells HRD. “The hype surrounding it grows each day, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and it could really reshape business and the world as we know it.”
Schebesta, who co-founded global comparison finder.com, says employers that have a deeper understanding of cryptocurrency will reap the rewards in the long term.
“For instance, it may be a cheaper option to pay offshore employees using cryptocurrency instead of a traditional money transfer, due to generally higher costs and losing money in conversions,” he explains. “Employers who remain close-minded may also be limiting their talent pool as it becomes more in demand by employees.”
A number of organisations around the world have already begun paying employees in bitcoin and it’s something Schebesta predicts will become commonplace in just a few short years.
“NZ employers will see the beginnings of a reshaped industry over the next five years,” he warns. “From the get-go, if given the option, new hires will specify their choice of receiving their salary in a cryptocurrency.”
However, Schebesta also says that, as the industry gets more popular, the tax rules surrounding it are also likely to change.
“Just like with stock, employees may need to pay capital gains tax if their coins have risen in value from when their salary was first paid,” he says. “Or income tax brackets may need to be adjusted. This all depends on the jurisdiction, of course. We may also see a change in the way superannuation is paid out.”
His message to employers who are still in the dark or want to know more is simple – “Check it out!” he urges. “Consider it as a new investment option with the ability to change how we pay our employees and how we invest in capital as we know it. Don’t just sit back and avoid the hype. Aim to increase your understanding and how you can use it to your benefit.”
Employers can also get creative with cryptocurrency and Schebesta pointed to Singapore-based TenX as a perfect example. The blockchain company pays out their staff bonuses in Pay tokens – the businesses’ own currency.
“This is clever, as it incentivises staff to do a great job, as the value of their bonus is in line with the company’s success,” he says.
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Cryptocurrency has seen a surge of media coverage in recent weeks yet many people – including employers – have a limited understanding of what it is and how it could impact them.