Internet Company Asks Israeli Authorities Permission to Pay Salaries in Bitcoin.
The Israeli high-tech sector is currently undergoing a severe talent squeeze, with companies having to compete over employees with higher salaries, stock options and better perks. One such company might have found a new way to attract and retain tech-savvy staff in this environment: offer to pay salaries in bitcoin. Now it only remains to be seen if the country’s authorities will permit the plan.
An Internet company with offices in Tel Aviv, Spot.IM, is in negotiations with the Israel Securities Authority (ISA). The talks are said to be primarily about the appropriate exchange rate, a critical issue for making this work, and it is expected that the sides will reach some agreements over the next month or so, which will allow the plan to go forward. The company has also brought the matter to the attention of the Labor Ministry, which says its officials are looking into the subject. The plan is that any employee that wishes it can accept the total or a portion of his paycheck in bitcoin, with the company absorbing the costs of the high shekel conversion fees.
Spot.IM is not part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem but of the established Internet industry. It helps media websites manage their social engagement and comments sections, and among its clients it lists Time Magazine, NBC, Huffington Post, Engadget, Fox News and other big names. The company has raised a total of about $38 million since it was founded in 2012, and its latest round in November 2017 brought in $25 million in Series C funding from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and other venture capitalists.
While Israeli law doesn’t officially recognize bitcoin as a currency, nor a security, the tax system does accommodate for including anything of value in calculating salaries. As such, it’s not as if the company would violate the law by not approaching the regulators for permission beforehand. Therefore it seems that, besides an abundance of caution by its legal support, the goal is mainly to prevent future complications with the hostile banking system by getting a seal of approval from the state bureaucrats.
Ido Goldberg, Head of Spot.IM’s operations in the country, told Israeli newspaper Calcalist that: “As ones who deal with some of the most advanced technologies every day, we are great believers in the future of cryptographic currencies. Still, currencies are built on trust, and to create such trust companies, organizations and institutions will have to recognize cryptographic currencies as legitimate.”
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