GMO Internet, a Japanese company, will start paying part of its employees’ salaries in Bitcoin. The company, which operates a range of web-related businesses including finance, online advertising and internet infrastructure, will start paying up to 100,000 yen (S$1,200) monthly by Bitcoin to its employees in Japan from February.
Company spokeswoman Harumi Ishii said:
“Employees can receive salaries by Bitcoin if they want to. We hope to improve our own literacy of virtual currency by actually using it,”
Since GMO is a corporate leader in Japan, it is plausible that GMO’s cryptocurrency compensation scheme may serve as a model for Japanese and non-Japanese corporate entities moving forward. To that end, GMO has implemented a number of limits to their bitcoin payment program, likely to minimize their potential legal and financial exposure. Rather than offering the compensation scheme to all employees, the program will initially only be offered to one of GMO’s largest subsidiaries, GMO Internet Co., Ltd.
Additionally, GMO is limiting the maximum amount of bitcoin that employees may receive on a monthly basis. At the onset, GMO Internet Co., Ltd. employees will be permitted to deduct a maximum payment of 100,000 yen per month (roughly $885) from their salaries to purchase the bitcoin equivalent of such amount. These employees will also be offered a 10 percent bonus to opt-in to the compensation scheme.
Japanese wage and hour laws differ from comparable U.S. laws, making it easier for Japanese organizations like GMO to create a cryptocurrency-based compensation scheme. Chapter III, Article 24 of Japan’s Labor Standards Act dictates that payment to employees must be made in cash (recognized currency), subject to multiple exceptions. One such exception exists when there is a partial deduction of wages pursuant to an agreement with a person representing the majority of the employees.