Accenture’s recent report projects investment in the financial tech sector to more than double in five years, from $3 billion in 2013 to more than $8 billion in 2018.
With the rise of investments comes the rise of demands for employees. The first quarter of 2015 shows a 54 percent increase of venture capital funding for Bitcoin companies, with the total sum growing from $133 million to $229 million with notable investments in both Coinbase and 21inc.
At the Bitcoin Job Fair last week hosted by the Plug and Play Tech Center, the 30 companies represented were focused on attracting and keeping the best talent. The 350 attendees were passionate about Bitcoin, and many of the job seekers were interested in being at least partially compensated in the digital currency. Many of the startups present at the job fair, including BitPay, have international employees and are seeking both domestic and international talent.
Although choices abound for human resources and payroll solutions, the biggest payroll companies with automated services in Silicon Valley such as Zenpayroll and Zenefits have not integrated bitcoin for international payments. Instead, new entrants such as full-enterprise HR solution Zuman and simple payroll services such as Incoin are integrating bitcoin payments to solve central challenges for established and growing businesses.
They seek to offer flexible choices, automation and frictionless solutions for companies of all sizes. In addition to addressing common business pain points, they hope to give additional options to savvy tech employees across the world.
Zuman, unlike Zenefits or Zenpayroll, is a full-on enterprise HR solution solution providing services taking care of compliance, tax and legal issues but also combining them with payroll and employee record keeping in one easy to use interface with prices starting per employee. On the other end of the spectrum is Incoin, a lower-cost solution providing automated bitcoin and USD payouts to companies with a U.S. bank account with one low, flat fee. Bitcoin processing for both companies is accomplished through an API provided by BitPay, an international payment processor.
“If Bitcoin companies want to retain top talent, taking measures to ensure employee satisfaction is vital,” says BitPay Marketing Manager Emily Vaughn. “Receiving all or a portion of your paycheck in bitcoin is a major benefit for tech talent, and BitPay has partnered with payroll providers to make this easy and affordable for employers.”
“Through our partnership with BitPay, we are be able to better help companies that are moving beyond their startup phase attract and retain high-value employees,” says Doug Devlin, CEO of Zuman.
Companies such as Incoin and Zuman allow companies to pay domestic and international employees in USD and bitcoin, saving real time and money for startups. They are also helping lead bitcoin adoption by allowing employees to earn bitcoin rather than forcing locals to tap into exchanges.
“Offers like this are increasingly attractive to people in countries that have a volatile local currency where binding Forex market restrictions are in place and black markets charge unheard of prices, like Argentina” says Tony Holdstock-Brown of Incoin.
According to the New York Times, the official exchange rate for the Argentinian peso can be as much as 40 percent less than the effective, black market rate (the dolar blue). Increasingly, talented and educated Argentinians are trying to buy bitcoin and even trying to earn it.
Bitcoin companies BitPay, BitPagos and Bitex all have opened headquarters in Argentina to take advantage of this demand.
Being able to earn in bitcoin lowers the barrier to obtaining bitcoin and also provides opportunities for what 21 Inc.’s Balaji Srivinasan calls “closed-loop” companies and systems that accept bitcoin as payment for goods and services. Closed-loop systems are growing extremely important in the developing world as venture capital firms incubate companies that allow locals to spend bitcoin for goods and services, such as Purse.io, Zapgo.co, and Bankymoon.
Srivinasan highlighted a few potential issues in a presentation at the job fair. For example, closed-loop systems may push forward adoption, but adoption could also lead to a depression in the bitcoin price if individuals are forced to go to exchanges to convert bitcoin to spend fiat currency for goods and services.
The solution, according to Srivinasan, is to encourage a less volatile and valued bitcoin currency by giving individuals choice to purchase goods and services with digital currencies – especially in emerging markets such as the developing world.