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How Blockchain Is Being Used With Smart Buildings – ReadWrite

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Saul Bowden


Whether you realize it or not, many of us live in buildings with some smart capacity. You probably have at least one smart device in your home.

With the smart device industry set to grow by $65 billion by 2024, the odds are, you’ll add more of these devices. The true potential of smart homes lies in the ability of smart devices to communicate together — and that’s where blockchain technology comes in.

How Blockchain is Being Used With Smart Buildings

On the surface, smart technologies make individual tasks easier, but the potential is much larger than that. A smart device is effectively a sensor able to collect significant amounts of data about everything, from your energy use to how well-stocked your fridge is.

Smart Technology Works Better in Swarms

On its own, this data is valuable; when combined with data from other devices, its usability becomes game-changing. A properly connected smart home would be able to automatically adjust the heating to your preferences while minimizing bills, ordering your favorite groceries, monitoring and adjusting energy usage, sending repair notifications if something breaks, and much more.

Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are already used extensively in supply chain management. They help efficiently manage products passed through multiple stakeholders and verify that products are what the label says they are.

Catching Slave Labor in Fishing Supply Chains

One example where smart technology has been useful is in tracking fishing supply chains. The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) has used IoT to track sustainable tuna fishing.

The Western and Central Pacific tuna trade is rife with illegal fisheries — and, in some cases, slave labor — because tracking is either done via an easily-forged paper trail or not at all. However, savvy consumers and brands are demanding more accountability from the tuna industry.

The WWF’s branches in New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji have combined forces with blockchain software studio ConsenSys to implement secure traceability and track to address the problem.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) or QR codes capture information as a fish moves through the supply chain from the boat to grocers. Tracking information is automatically saved in blockchain, making it nearly impossible to forge.

Privacy and Compatibility Remain a Concern

Although smart technology has many uses in enterprise settings, it becomes a thornier prospect for individuals. IoT devices collect huge amounts of data which can reveal a lot about their owners. Additionally, they are often poorly secured, creating significant security challenges.

Most smart devices must run on centralized platforms controlled by major tech companies, notably Amazon and Google.

There have been significant privacy concerns about both companies due to their access to an extraordinary amount of personal data.

Amazon Alexa’s Vulnerabilities

Setting aside concerns about microphones, Amazon’s voice-activated assistant Alexa also presents other significant security concerns.

Although Amazon provides some privacy protections, with 100 – 200 million Alexa devices and over 100,000 skills already deployed, there is a significant concern about malicious developers taking advantage of security holes.

For example, developer names aren’t verified, allowing a malicious developer to stage a phishing attack posing as a different company. This risk is especially high with some skills that link to email, banking, or social media accounts.

After a skill has been approved and added to the marketplace, a malicious developer can change its coding without getting Amazon’s approval or notifying the customer. Many developers also have misleading privacy policies — or none at all, meaning that customers will have no idea how their personally identifiable information will be used.

Lack of Device Compatibility

The second challenge is compatibility. Early adopters are painfully familiar with the concept of device divorce, where two smart devices cannot speak with another. Part of the problem is that Amazon and Google are used as primary smart home controllers, and there isn’t a platform-agnostic solution widely available to most consumers.

Blockchain Technology is the Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Blockchain technologies are working to provide the solution to these challenges and others since they can enable P2P connections without the need for a centralized validator.

With blockchain, it would be possible to connect numerous smart devices without being forced to hand that data directly over to the device manufacturer, mitigating privacy and security concerns. It can also provide increased transparency over how data is used, helping users understand what data their smart home is collecting and what it’s used for.

Blockchain technology is also hardware agnostic. Thus, it would be possible for users to pair together devices from different manufacturers without worrying about compatibility.

IOTA’s Tangle vs. Traditional Blockchain

One of the best examples of this vision is the IoT-focused blockchain IOTA.

It is important to understand that we are not talking about financial blockchain technology like Bitcoin. Blockchains based on traditional Proof of Work (PoW), like Bitcoin, lack the speed and scalability necessary to process the millions of data points produced by smart devices.

Instead, we are looking at smart device-focused technologies, most notably IOTA. IOTA uses a Tangle specifically designed for data and value transfer.

Blockchains like Bitcoin are essentially long chains of blocks containing transactions. The Tangle, on the other hand, is constructed as a directed acyclic graph (DAG), which is a collection of vertices connected by edges.

Eliminating Validators

IOTA’s implementation is designed in such a way that each new transaction (vertice) must approve two previous transactions when it enters the Tangle. This eliminates the need for Proof of Stake (PoS) or PoW consensus methods.

Because these transactions don’t require always-online validators, they are feeless and contain metadata that makes them suitable for micropayments and data transfer.

IOTA’s Partnerships

IOTA is interesting because the technology is more mature than many other IoT-focused blockchain solutions. The project has experienced past problems, but the roll-out of its improved Tangle has allowed it to secure some important partnerships, primarily in areas designed to improve transparency.

Properly Validating Smart Device Data Is The First Step

IOTA’s most important partnership for smart homes is undoubtedly Project Alvarium. The biggest challenge posed by IoT — and smart devices in general — is the sheer volume of data collected. The vastness of information makes assessing what data is trustworthy and useful difficult, especially in an automated environment.

To solve this problem, Dell and IOTA teamed up to create Project Alvarium, designed to provide a simple way to assess the trustworthiness of data gathered.

Project Alvarium’s system logs every datapoint as it travels across the system. Each interaction is given a trust rating, which is logged on the IOTA Tangle to prevent tampering. This provides a simple way to find problems or deliberate tampering within a network of data.

Blockchain Can Help Resolve Security Concerns About Smart Security

When smart home users are certain that they can trust the data being generated by their devices, it opens up a world of opportunities that could transform our daily lives.

The most immediate use of blockchain technology is in improving building security. The most high-profile problem is undoubtedly Amazon’s Ring. In late 2020, dozens of people sued Amazon over accusations that their Ring doorbells had been breached.

The breach enabled hackers to watch people inside their homes and talk to individuals in the house over the Ring speakers.

Additionally, the product’s privacy policy is porous and allows Amazon to share video and microphone data with numerous third parties, removing any expectation of privacy.

The Blockchain Difference

Blockchain has been shown to resolve both the problem of data breaches as well as hacking takeovers. Capturing a blockchain-powered device would require compromising the entire blockchain itself compromised.

But proper validation, such as that proposed by IOTA, allows malicious devices to be pruned from the network, significantly improving security.

Additionally, blockchain could enable consumers to understand how their data is being used, helping to make smart devices more privacy-focused.

Smart Building Management Solutions are Already Being Tested

The value of blockchain technology becomes even bigger at scale. One of the most impactful uses of IoT and blockchain technology is in building management. Whether for an apartment building or an office building, it’s often difficult to effectively manage a building’s heating, lighting, and security in a way that minimizes waste.

Example: How Blockchain Could Manage Heating Bills

In a traditional setting, most buildings are managed centrally. If there is a unified heating system, it is often controlled by the local administration. Although this system is more efficient than individually-heated buildings, there is significant room for human error. That’s because the system is not optimized to account for more efficient heating higher up in the building as heat rises.

A network of heating sensors could be used to automatically measure the temperature in each apartment or office in a building. If the different thermostats could communicate with each other, it should be possible to input all the data into a blockchain solution.

A scheme like this would allow the building operators to create a proper heat map of the building and understand the most efficient usage of energy. It would also enable residents to access the data and understand why the system works the way it does.

Theoretically, it could also enable a user to select a target temperature for their apartment by leveraging rising heat from lower apartments.

Solutions on the Horizon

This kind of project is already being tested. For example, Brickschain offers several products that minimize difficulties with building management and handover on sale. There are also an increasing number of studies looking at how blockchain can be positively implemented into the building management process.

The Future of IoT: Many-to-Many Marketplaces

When buildings are utilizing IoT devices and blockchains, a bigger opportunity opens up: decentralized marketplaces.

Currently, it can be difficult to get the best deal on energy or heating bills because it is a marketplace with many customers but only a few providers. Switching providers can be difficult and doesn’t guarantee a competitive rate.

However, with blockchain, it would be possible to change providers based on real-time pricing data. This setup would create a competitive many-to-many environment where many providers are looking to sell energy to many customers. The competition among providers would drive down energy prices and improve overall efficiency in energy markets.

Swedish District Heating Study

Sweden has conducted studies to investigate the utility of blockchain for a district heating market. The setup allows apartment blocks already utilizing blockchain to automatically select the most affordable provider at any given moment, minimizing bills without requiring micromanagement.

The same concept could be applied to many aspects of building management.

Decentralized Governance

One interesting idea is the concept of decentralized governance. This type of network could empower tenants and apartment owners to vote on changes to their apartment block’s management proceedings.

For example, renters could vote in favor of using only green energy sources or for changes to living space regulations. Building administrators could then better understand their occupants’ needs and create a better living environment for all involved.

Blockchain Will be Needed to do IoT Correctly

Adoption of IoT and smart technologies will likely increase. Governments like the UK are already pushing hard on smart meters and many of us have already adopted some form of smart technology in our homes.

This rush to adopt new technology will undoubtedly come with significant scaling problems as well as security concerns and significant privacy issues.

Additionally, a market dominated by a handful of major tech companies like Amazon and Google could prove damaging to the consumer in the long term.

To counter these eventualities, we’ll need a platform-agnostic solution that allows a more diverse field of producers to create new IoT devices.

Blockchain technology still represents the best way to utilize IoT for everyone’s benefit. If solutions like IOTA are implemented into existing smart homes, then we could build a new decentralized marketplace that will give us better control of our data, while improving the efficiency of our homes.

Image Credit: pixabay; thank you!

Saul Bowden

Saul writes about tech & business, he’s covered everything from cryptocurrency to the oil & gas industry. He spends time working with start-ups and writes for commodity.com.

Politics

What Does the Future of Telehealth Look Like? – ReadWrite

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Nate Nead


During the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us got a glimpse of the potential future of telehealth. Telehealth, or telemedicine, is the ongoing delivery and execution of any health- or medicine-related services in a remote setting, using telecommunications and digital communication channels. That’s kind of a vague definition, but it includes things like doctor’s visits, check-ins, consultations, prescriptions, and more – all done remotely.

The pandemic forced the hand of technologists, healthcare providers, and other organizations. With people restricted by lockdown protocols and concerned about their own wellbeing, remote healthcare and medicine became the only real options – and it worked quite well.

But what does the future of telehealth look like? And will public acceptance continue?

The State of Telehealth Today

Let’s start by looking at the state of telehealth today.

Current telehealth incorporates a wide range of different technologies, including AI-based monitoring, high-tech wearable devices, consultations via video chat, and more. However, not everyone has made use of virtual appointments or digital communication, and many of the applications of telehealth are restricted to the following:

  •         Behavioral health. Behavioral health services, including therapy, are often easy to provide over video chat and other forms of digital communication.
  •         Chronic disease management. Patients with chronic diseases or chronic pain typically need some form of ongoing treatment and support – but going to appointments all the time can be exhausting. That’s why telemedicine is ideal for chronic disease management.
  •         Consultations. Simple consultations often require little physical interaction. Virtually, doctors can still meet with you, talk about your problems, and even look at your body and measure vitals to see what actions are appropriate next.
  •         Remote patient monitoring. Thanks to wearable devices and other tech, it’s possible to remotely monitor patients, paying attention to their heart rate, temperature, breathing rate, and other metrics.

The majority of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers agree that telehealth can be effective – and that it’s a preferable treatment alternative for many patients. However, regulatory support remains sluggish, and some people are reluctant to make use of telehealth services because of privacy concerns, skepticism of the benefits of the technology, or just ignorance of how the technology works.

The Benefits of Telehealth

There’s a lot at stake in the world of telehealth. Continuing to make advances and drive the industry forward will have benefits in the form of:

  •         Convenience. Providing medicine remotely is more convenient for everyone involved. Healthcare providers can provide consultations and some form of treatment anywhere. Patients can get care even if they’re at home. This completely eliminates the need to travel to a facility, eliminates wait times, and allows the patient to be more comfortable throughout the entire process. It’s more efficient and more comfortable, overall.
  •         Reduced costs. Thanks in part to the increased convenience, telehealth has the potential to reduce costs. Patients don’t have to pay for transportation, nor to they need to use the same facilities as they would with an in-person visit. Providing care remotely can also be faster and take up fewer resources, lowering bills for both insurance companies and end consumers.
  •         Better turnaround. When meeting with patients virtually and monitoring data streams remotely, doctors and healthcare professionals can typically see more people in a given period of time. This is an especially important benefit, considering our current doctor shortage.
  •         Higher responsiveness. With live data feeds and automatic alerts, doctors can often be faster and more responsive to the patients who need care the most. This can avert medical disasters and ultimately provide better care to the people who need it most.
  •         Improved outcomes. Overall, patients will enjoy improved outcomes. More available doctors, broader reach, lower costs, and more immediate treatment will save lives and make people more comfortable.

How Telehealth Will Evolve

So how will telehealth evolve in the future?

  •         Custom solutions. For starters, we’re going to see more demand for custom solutions – both for individuals and for healthcare providers. Every hospital and practice in the country is going to be hungry for their own proprietary apps, software, devices, and other technologies to provide their patients with the best possible care. Accordingly, there’s going to be a golden age of healthcare technology development – and thousands of new technologies that will push the limits of our medical knowledge.
  •         Inclusion in health policies. We’ll also see the inclusion of telehealth- and telemedicine-specific policies and outlines in health policies. Government departments, insurance companies, and other organizations will work to make specific rules and regulations for telehealth, legitimizing it in the eyes of the public and setting the stage for future developments.
  •         Wearable devices. Wearable devices are already a big part of telemedicine, but they’ll be an even bigger part of the industry in the future. Wristbands can currently detect and transmit your heart rate remotely, along with other metrics like body temperature. In the future, wearables will become more diverse, more discreet, and more sophisticated, capable of measuring a much wider range of data points while being hardly noticeable to the wearer.
  •         Data-based profiles. Big data and telemedicine go hand in hand. If you’re wearing devices 24/7 that collect information about your body and health habits, doctors will have access to enormous volumes of data about you as a person. With that, they’ll be able to make much more individualized plans for treatment – and give you exactly what you need to maximize your chances of improvement or recovery.
  •         AI bots. Though telehealth will have the potential to free up doctors’ time with faster appointments and greater convenience, we’re still likely to suffer from the ongoing labor shortage in the field. To make up for this, we’ll likely see the emergence of AI chatbots who can handle the majority of initial consultations – providing care to more people and saving time and money in the process.
  •         Virtual reality. Video chats are effective for most forms of communication, but sometimes, navigating a 3D environment together is even better. In the distant future, appointments may include interaction in a virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) space. It could be a way to preserve the “human connection” element of health or simply provide better care.
  •         Real-time care. Wearables and diagnostic tools will be capable of sending a constant stream of information to healthcare providers, resulting in a real-time feed of data from which providers can make important decisions. If someone is experiencing a life-threatening situation, a healthcare provider can respond immediately.
  •         The dissolution of “telehealth.” Eventually, “telehealth” will be a foreign concept because technology is so ubiquitous that it becomes the norm. Telehealth tech will just be a normal, accepted part of healthcare.

Collectively, these effects will lead to:

  •         Higher public acceptance. Better tech will lead to higher public acceptance. More people will be on board with remote health services – and demand will rise.
  •         Greater accessibility. Cheaper, more ubiquitous tech also has the potential to increase accessibility. It will be in the hands of more healthcare providers, more people will have new ways to get healthcare, and there will be more provisions in insurance policies to provide that care.
  •         Lower costs. Tech has been reducing healthcare costs for decades, and that trend is only going to accelerate.
  •         Better outcomes. Almost every aspect of our current system has the potential to be better, and yield better results, with better, more embedded tech.

When people see these benefits, it’s going to inspire even more ingenuity, investment, and acceptance – resulting in a positive feedback loop that keeps the industry growing.

It’s all but a certainty that telehealth and telemedicine will continue to progress over the next several years and decades – but it’s not certain how or when it will become the new normal. It’s an industry that’s young, with a lot of potential, so it’s an important one to watch whether you’re a doctor, and investor, or just someone interested in better health outcomes. 

 

Nate Nead

Nate Nead is the CEO & Managing Member of Nead, LLC, a consulting company that provides strategic advisory services across multiple disciplines including finance, marketing and software development. For over a decade Nate had provided strategic guidance on M&A, capital procurement, technology and marketing solutions for some of the most well-known online brands. He and his team advise Fortune 500 and SMB clients alike. The team is based in Seattle, Washington; El Paso, Texas and West Palm Beach, Florida.

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New Domain Extensions Are The Future for Startups – ReadWrite

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New Domain Extensions Are The Future for Startups - ReadWrite


Domain names — the focal point of the internet. There is no doubt the existence of a big-three-domains consisting of the .com, .org and .net. These three reign supreme. For over 30 years, these domain extensions have been used to house some of the internet’s most recognized websites. But with each passing year, these three popular domains come closer and closer to their digital transience. This is thanks to the ever-increasing unavailability of these domains as well as the rise of more creative, contemporary and vastly flexible alternatives.

In the early days of the Internet, like the 90s and 2000s, you could only choose from these three “dot” domain extensions. This small selection pool made the choices highly sought-after by default and tolerably iconic in their own right. But like every icon of the 90s and 2000s, their relevance fades with each passing year. Yet despite this fact, these domains – the .com in particular – are still a go-to for many entrepreneurs who are on the cusp of launching their next venture. And you can’t blame them. When we picture successful websites, they almost all seem to use one of these three domains as their home on the web – think Amazon.com, Wikipedia.org and SpeedTest.net.

“Sorry… that domain is not available.”

Most entrepreneurs have spent hours, days, or weeks brainstorming new business names. Then they enter their ideas into GoDaddy only to be met with a message saying, “Sorry… that domain is not available.” The immense popularity of the big-three domain extensions has resulted in fewer and fewer web addresses, with those extensions being available. As a result, these domain extensions can no longer do what they once did so effortlessly: establish a memorable address on the web.

It’s a lot like real estate; the folks who are early to the game get the best picking. With the domain registrar VeriSign reporting over 360 million domain registrations by the end of the first quarter of last year alone, there is no question that the internet real estate market is saturated. Having an entire market saturated presents an inimitable challenge. However, business is a field overflowing with challenges that are met with triumphs by way of solutions. Herein comes new domain extensions.

New Domain Extensions vs. Traditional Domain Extensions

During the last few years, we have ushered in a new era of internet real estate. The failing availability of the .coms, .orgs and .nets has given birth to some catchy new domain extensions, including everything from .earth to .agency. The list truly is endless.

New domains now bequeath creative power to young companies and extend their branding possibilities. For example, a new fictitious accounting group called Billiton Accountants would likely opt for the domain names, billiton.com or billitonaccountants.com, but both are, of course, taken. In that case, a solid substitute would be billiton.accountants. It’s short, memorable, and most importantly — it’s still available (at least as of this writing).

The sales pitch encouraging the choosing of new domain extensions as opposed to a traditional extension is centered around these points:

Availability

These new domain extensions are still just that, new. Thanks to this novelty, a vast majority of unique and distinctive name combinations remain untouched. This creates a coveted opportunity for more businesses to get a domain name they actually want.

Memorability

Uniqueness is at times tantamount to memorability. Nothing makes something more memorable than being unique. Owners of new domain extensions will tell you how intrigued clients and prospects have been when presented with a business card festooned with a new domain extension — especially if an awesome wordplay is involved. For example: thebillionairesclub.com could just be thebillionaires.club.

Protectability

New domain extensions are the future, and large corporations like Google know that. So for case, rather than go the traditional route, Google opted for the domain abc.xyz for its holding company Alphabet. This allowed Google to secure a piece of coveted internet real estate and create a level of protection surrounding their sister brand. And many other top corporations are grabbing these names in an effort to protect their brand.

A Prime Time to Protect Your Brand

In building on the point of protecting ones’ brand, another new wave of domain extensions known as Brand TLDs (top-level domains) are just around the corner. A Brand TLD allows a company to use its brand as its domain. Over 600 companies have applied for brand TLDs, and some companies are already using them. For instance, Google already has domains like ai.google, and British broadcaster Sky has already set up a redirect for the q.sky domain.

Despite their rise in popularity, many wonder if using a new domain extension rather than a traditional one could affect their website’s performance in search engines. The answer, according to Google themselves, is no. Using a new domain extension will not hurt your website search performance. Not utterly surprising given the companies own endorsement of these new domains.

Moving Forward

Although the .com, .org, and .net domains will still be around for many more years, they will likely be used less and less with each passing year. Founders in the business naming phase can stop worrying about whether their .com is already taken (just accept that it most likely is) and start thinking of all the creative web addresses they can create using new domain extensions.

The internet is a vast space with an infinite amount of potential. And while the big-three domain extensions are still alive and well, they’re getting closer to their digital transience. As such, it might be time for you to consider more creative alternatives that can help your website reach its full potential in this era of change.

This is indeed a prime time to make a solid impression and bid farewell to the .com, .net and .org domain extensions. What interesting domain names will you create?

Image Credit: maxderoin; pexels; thank you!

Joshua Littlejohn

Founder & CEO of Norgress

Joshua Littlejohn is a writer, entrepreneur, author as well as the founder and CEO of Norgress. Norgress is a Canadian-based technology and digital media company that operates brands in business development, marketing and communications. He has written on numerous topics including technology, startups, entrepreneurship and marketing. His first book, The Marketing Fallacy, earned a Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review seal. The book highlights how small businesses can use the power of marketing to appear like a large corporation. You can reach Joshua at [email protected]

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Paying Employees With Crypto: Can Your Business Do It? – ReadWrite

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Shannon Flynn


Cryptocurrency has made some remarkable progress in the past few years. Bitcoin hit a peak of more than $60,000 this year, a jump of more than $50,000 since the year prior. Services like PayPal are also expanding crypto support as the once-niche resource breaks into the mainstream.

Not long ago, businesses were hesitant to dip their toes into the world of cryptocurrency. It seemed like a fad, was too volatile, or lacked the legitimacy to be a worthwhile business investment. Now, with major banks and other companies embracing crypto, more start to believe its benefits finally outweigh its risks.

Many businesses now accept cryptocurrency payments for their products and services. Some have gone a step further, though. For example, there’s a blossoming trend of companies paying their employees with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

If you’ve heard of this trend, you likely have a few questions. Is it legal to pay employees with crypto? Is it practical? How could a company do that? Here’s a closer look.

Benefits of Paying With Crypto

Why a business would want to establish a cryptocurrency payroll may not be immediately clear. Crypto compensation is a complicated process, but it can have several benefits, too. One of the most significant is its security and efficiency, especially for international payments.

With fiat currency, cross-border payments have to go through conversions and intermediaries, which can incur fees and slow things down. Since cryptocurrencies run on decentralized blockchains, they can reduce costs associated with these payments. For example, employers can send money to international employees instantly without any intermediaries.

The distributed and transparent nature of blockchains also gives crypto payments some security benefits. Anyone can see blockchain transactions, but no one can change them. This transparency and security help establish more trust for payments, which is particularly helpful for independent contractors and freelancers.

Employees may want crypto payments because they can help them make more money without extra work. For example, instead of immediately converting their crypto, workers could wait for its value to rise, then sell it and make a profit. This easy extra money could help workers like nurses, teachers, chefs, and truck drivers who face more challenges and risks than most professions in America.

Companies in some competitive fields like the tech industry could enable crypto payments to attract top talent. By offering this type of compensation, businesses show they’re forward-thinking early tech adopters, attracting similarly minded employees.

The best and brightest, interested in new and exciting tech, would bring their talents where they believe they’re most welcome.

Challenges With Crypto Compensation

For all of its benefits, crypto compensation still has some considerable obstacles in its way. Most notably, its legal status is hazy at best. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay in cash or its equivalent. One could argue cryptocurrency is a legitimate substitute for cash, but without much legal precedent, the Department of Labor may not see it that way.

There are also state laws to consider. For example, some states require employers to pay wages in U.S. currency, which would disqualify decentralized alternatives like Bitcoin. Many of these have exceptions but would still need some potentially complicated legal loopholes to pay workers in crypto.

Crypto compensation may also be a headache when it comes time to file taxes. Regulations are still unclear about cryptocurrency’s taxable status, and they could change as crypto grows more popular. Companies may have the resources to understand and handle these strange tax situations, but individual employees may not.

Cryptocurrency’s volatility can benefit employees by giving them “free” money, but it can also have the opposite effect. For example, imagine if a company pays a worker in Bitcoin, but Bitcoin’s value drops before the payment hits the worker’s bank account. Quick value changes like this can end up with employees not getting their full compensation.

If companies use crypto compensation to attract tech-savvy workers, they could encounter interoperability issues. Different blockchains lack interoperability, so much so that users can’t transact Bitcoin for Ether without a centralized crypto exchange. So if companies pay in a different cryptocurrency than an employee uses, it would quickly lose its luster.

Is it Worth it to Pay Employees With Crypto?

It seems that for every benefit of crypto compensation, there’s a challenge to match it. Still, it’s difficult to say whether or not something is worth it based entirely on hypothetical situations. Looking at real-life examples of companies that have instituted some level of crypto payments can offer more guidance.

An employee for an unnamed U.S. company described their experience with crypto payments to MarketWatch. After paying this person for contract work, the company’s CEO asked that they return the crypto after its value rose 700%. Of course, the CEO can’t enforce this, as it would be a breach of contract, but the situation does highlight some of the troubles of crypto compensation.

Crypto’s rising or falling value can make employers feel they’ve overcompensated workers or workers feel employers have underpaid them. While these transactions may be perfectly legal, provided the employee elected to receive payment this way, they can create tension. So even if you have the legality, taxes, and logistics figured out, crypto payroll can still be a risk.

Of course, this one story may not represent how crypto compensation would play out for other companies. Nevertheless, other organizations are taking an interest in it and could serve as helpful examples.

In February, Twitter’s CFO said they’ve considered paying employees with Bitcoin and will continue to monitor it. Similarly, the city of Miami is exploring Bitcoin payments for municipal employees.

As more prominent organizations embrace crypto payroll, the practice will gain legitimacy. In addition, standards for doing so will develop, and legal regulations could change to accommodate these payments. So, while crypto compensation may be a risky venture now, it may not be in the future.

How Crypto Payroll Could Work

Instituting a crypto payroll system today could take a considerable amount of preparation. It’s still a risky endeavor, so companies should plan thoroughly to mitigate the associated challenges. First, there’s the issue of legality. There are a few prerequisites for these payments to be legal.

Since many states require employers to pay workers in U.S. currency, they could use a conversion service. In this system, employers would send a payment in dollars, which then rapidly converts into crypto at that moment’s exchange rate. Alternatively, crypto payments could work as bonuses or overtime payments, while U.S. currency accounts for most workers’ paychecks.

Since regulations around independent contractors are less stringent, these workers are ideal for crypto compensation. No matter what type of worker receives crypto payments, though, it must be voluntary. In addition, employees have to elect to receive payments in cryptocurrency. Otherwise, employers could run into legal trouble.

Both employers and employees may need to create a crypto wallet to facilitate payment. Thankfully, this process is becoming easier all the time. Companies can even use peer-to-peer payment apps like PayPal to send crypto payments, which may be the easiest option. These third-party services come with built-in crypto wallets, but businesses must ensure they’re secure first.

Companies should also make sure everyone involved understands the risks too. All parties should know the potential complicated tax implications and accept crypto’s volatility. Everyone should also record conversion rates at the time of payment to help with their taxes later.

Cryptocurrency Is Becoming More Legitimate

Crypto compensation is still a new concept, so it will take some time before it’s a reliable, safe business practice. As more companies look into it, though, the process, as well as cryptocurrency itself, will gain legitimacy. As that happens, regulations will clear up, and new services will appear to facilitate these payments. Thus, in the future, crypto compensation may not carry many risks at all.

At this point, it’s clear that cryptocurrency is more than a trend. It’s a well-established, growing resource that businesses may not want to ignore for much longer. Before long, it could be a central part of how companies operate.

Image Credit: rodnae productions; pexels; thank you!

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