The crypto market is volatile, but that doesn’t seem to give Shead much pause about implementing digital money in STEMuli’s educational metaverse. Asked about it on Friday, Shead said they hope to roll out a cryptocurrency-based reward system sometime in the next year. She said they plan on building an in-house system for their rewards where the value of their digital money is set in stone. The hope is this will shield them from changes in the general crypto market.
“Our approach is first to build an internal database for tokens and rewards,” Shead said. “Then enable students to [cash out] those rewards once they have hit certain milestones. Because an internal database governs our reward system, they would not be subject to those fluctuations.”
Others, like employees who opted to receive some of their paycheck in cryptocurrency, aren’t so protected. That’s because, like investing in stocks, throwing money into cryptocurrency is always a gamble.
There have been two big dips in the value of cryptocurrencies in about a month’s time, the latest hitting Bitcoin. It’s still the most valuable cryptocurrency in the world, but now it’s only worth about $21,000 a coin.
It was worth $68,000 at its highest.
According to a survey conducted by sofi.com, an online bank and personal finance company, some employees are increasingly interested in cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. The survey found that while employees still feel retirement matching and financial planning tools are important benefits for employers to offer, 36% of workers said they want the ability to get paid in cryptocurrency. Some employees, 42%, also said they would like to receive NFTs as performance rewards.
Workplace Intelligence and SoFi at Work conducted the survey in the U.S. Dec. 21-29, asking 1,600 “HR leaders” and employees about financial wellbeing, financial literacy and workplace benefits. The respondents were between the ages of 18 and 74 and received a “small monetary incentive” for taking the survey, according to sofi.com.
A global poll conducted by deVere Group, a financial services company, found that “more than a third of millennials and half of Generation Z would be happy to receive 50% of their salary in Bitcoin and/or other cryptocurrencies.”
Shead said she considered offering STEMuli employees a portion of their pay in cryptocurrency but didn’t move forward with the idea. She’s a big sports fan, so when she saw NFL and NBA players opting to get paid in crypto, it piqued her interest.
Some of those players, like the Rams’ Odell Beckham Jr., lost big when the price of Bitcoin plummeted earlier this year. The contract he signed with the Rams’ had him taking his salary in Bitcoin, according to deadspin.com. His original salary was valued at $750,000 in Bitcoin. It came crashing down to just over $400,000 before taxes.
But, Shead said the crashes have piqued her interest again, largely because the prices of some cryptocurrencies have fallen so low. “I observed the market factors this year and it just didn’t make sense to take the risk early 2022,” she said. “Perhaps now would be a good time to reconsider. It may be a great investment opportunity.”
Or it may be what its critics at the website Web3 is going just great calls it: a grift.
For the last couple of years, local artist Clay Perry has been diving deep into the world of crypto and NFTs. These are part of a new iteration of the internet people are calling Web 3, of which Perry is an enthusiast. The crash in values hasn’t made him flinch either. “I know many people who got hit hard during this dip, but for me, it doesn’t really worry me much,” he said.
“I’m more interested in the ecosystem and being a part of the community rather than making money in the short term,” Perry said. “It’s really just a matter of your risk tolerance and what you can handle.”
In April, when things seemed a bit more promising for crypto, CNBC reported that the “perk” of offering to pay employees in digital money was gaining popularity. But for some, offering this “perk” is really just capitalizing on a fad to lure young workers.
SharpRank, an independent ratings agency, is just one company using the tactic. The company’s founder and CEO, Chris Adams, essentially told CNBC offering to pay in crypto is a trend, and they’re cashing in on it.
“When Starbucks first became popular it was important to be seen with a Starbucks cup,” Adams told CNBC. “It’s very similar with respect to being able to have some sort of cryptocurrency because that’s what all their friends are talking about.”