Nonprofit Pays Staff in Bitcoin

Print Share on LinkedIn More



April 29, 2013; SFGate

Would the staff of your nonprofit agree to be paid in bitcoins? One third of the staff at the nonprofit Internet Archive took founder Brewster Kahle up on that offer, agreeing to take $100 or $200 of their compensation in bitcoins for a pay period.

Bitcoin is a new, virtual form of currency. It has no centralized issuing authority and uses “cryptography” to regulate coin production and transactions. The Internet Archive accepts Bitcoin donations on its website and has collected more than $6,000 worth.

The negative to paying in bitcoins is that most stores and companies don’t accept it. However, several shops in the Bay Area have begun accommodating the currency. Kahle even convinced a nearby sushi restaurant, Sake Zone, to accept bitcoins in the face of the staff’s new payment option.

The Internet Archive’s idea of offering this alternative currency is interesting and could spark relationships with local businesses, but the virtual cash is also a gamble. Recent fluctuations in the value of bitcoins have made many question its legitimacy as a stable currency. What do you think of Bitcoin? Is it a viable option for staff wages?—Aine Creedon

  • Tom

    Interesting. One question that will surface is the value of the payment for tax purposes. Given the “investment” or speculative nature of Bitcoins, how would gains or losses off the original salary payment equivalent be treated? If you were paid in stock, it would have a basis of value at that point, right? And you would recognize that as income. If you sell it later, your gain or loss would be a capital one. Would the same be true here? It could make things tricky as the value at the time of payment would be income and any change from that value over time would be a capital one.

  • Philip Cohen

    PreyPal + BitCoin—now there’s a match made in heaven …

    And the ugly reality for consumers, particularly payees, dealing with the clunky PayPal …

  • brewster kahle

    Thank you for writing about the Archive (I work there). We are having a great time with bitcoin– it seems like the local currency of the Internet. We would like to encourage this decentrlized system. (and I had sushi today for bitcoins).