Everything you need to know to decide if you want your paycheck in the stablecoin USDC or fiat USD — or a bit of both!
Whether or not you want to engage with cryptocurrency may no longer be solely up to you or your personal investment philosophy. An increasing number of employers are paying their employees in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies like USDC.
While on the surface this may seem impractical — after all, fiat currency is still more widely accepted, so being paid in US dollars seems to trump any other form of payment — there are surprising benefits to being paid in cryptocurrency.
Specifically, the stablecoin US Dollar Coin (USDC), which is pegged to the US dollar, provides additional safety compared to the volatility of other cryptocurrencies while also having benefits over a fiat currency as it can be used much more easily to buy and trade cryptocurrencies.
If you’re getting paid in USDC, or hope to be paid in USDC, read on to learn everything from legality to taxes to safety as you learn how to get paid in USDC.
What is USDC?
First and foremost, let’s dive into USDC, or the US Dollar Coin. USDC is a cryptocurrency that is designed to maintain a constant value of 1 US dollar. It belongs to a broader category of cryptocurrencies called stablecoins, which use a variety of methods, including pegging their value to fiat currencies or commodities like gold and silver, to help maintain a stable price.
The USDC stablecoin was created by CENTRE, an organization founded by the crypto exchange platform Coinbase and the financial technology firm Circle. It was launched in the fall of 2018 as an alternative to other US dollar-backed cryptocurrencies like Tether (USDT) or TrueUSD (TUSD).
Unlike the most popular stablecoin Tether, however, creators of the USD Coin are obligated to provide full transparency and work with a range of financial institutions to maintain full reserves of the equivalent fiat currency.
Each USDC is redeemable for one dollar and is backed by one dollar or a dollar-denominated asset with equivalent value, held in accounts that are regulated by US financial institutions. These accounts are audited by the accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP, which issues monthly attestations on the reserves backing USDC. This means that USDC is much more regulated, reliable, and stable than other cryptocurrencies on the market.
You can buy USDC on blockchains like Ethereum, where it first launched as an ERC-20 token, as well as Solana, Stellar, and Algorand. It can be purchased on both centralized and decentralized exchanges and is ideal for payments and remittances because it experiences much less volatility than Bitcoin or ether. It is often favored by traders who wish to place profits made from trading in higher-volatility currencies into more lower-volatility digital assets without exiting to fiat.
In essence, USDC is a programmable dollar. Because of this, developers can create accounts to store money with one line of code, lending is both faster and cheaper as well as being more transparent, and it’s also faster and cheaper to receive payments in USDC.
In fact, there are also other applications, such as crowdfunding, transparent charity donations, and remittance payments through MoneyGram. USDC allows unbanked individuals in any country in the world to hold dollar value with nothing more than a mobile phone and a digital wallet, making it a crucial link between traditional finance and the blockchain-powered open financial system.
Ultimately, owning USDC is powerful and its value in the future is only likely to grow.
How Do You Get Paid in USDC?
If you want to get paid in USDC, your best option is to use OnJuno. While your employer may not be on board to pay you in cryptocurrency just yet, you can use an online platform like OnJuno to convert part or all of your paycheck into cryptocurrency and be paid in both fiat currency and cryptocurrency, if you wish.
While you can choose to get paid in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or a basket of currencies, the best part is that OnJuno works with your employer’s direct deposit to make direct, scheduled payments so that you don’t have to worry about setting up this payment system more than once.
It’s simple, seamless, and the best part is that you can begin receiving your wages in USDC as soon as you want!
Getting Paid in USDC: The Basics
So, how to get paid in USDC? Essentially, all you need is a decentralized digital wallet. While some cryptocurrency payroll agencies exist, like Bitwage, which helps companies to pay their employees in USDC and other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, your employer can also simply send you your wage in USDC through your digital wallet.
Ideally, this will be accompanied by an invoice — multiple services and platforms offer cryptocurrency invoices now — so that you and your employer can have a record of your paychecks. Your employer may also partner with Coinbase which is now allowing their users to direct a portion of their paycheck to purchase cryptocurrency. While this is a relatively recent announcement, in figuring out how to get paid in USDC it is clear that in the future, being paid in USDC or other cryptocurrencies will be easier than ever.
Fortunately or unfortunately, however, there is no clear answer regarding the legality of being paid in USDC. Most central banks in the world have not currently approved Bitcoin, USDC or other cryptocurrencies as an established form of payment, making it difficult for payroll systems to rely on USDC as a wage. Moreover, USDC and other cryptocurrencies are not regulated worldwide. As such, while figuring out how to get paid in USDC is not prohibited, it straddles the line of legality, especially as USDC is considered a cryptocurrency versus a security.
Finally, as the USDC is tracked to the dollar, you essentially aren't gaining or losing money, so there won't be taxes to be paid. Please note, however, that we aren't tax professionals — you should always keep yourself up-to-date on the latest regulation by chatting with a tax advisor. You can also read in more detail about how to pay cryptocurrency taxes here after you learn how to get paid in USDC.
Getting Paid in USDC: Pros and Cons
There are a number of unexpected benefits of figuring out how to get paid in USDC, Bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies. For instance, a major benefit of being paid in USDC is cutting out the middleman, or the bank, and receiving your payment instantly as with a product like the one OnJuno provides.
You also avoid chargebacks and other overhead fees and often don’t need to pay a third party to handle your paychecks. Moreover, getting paid in USDC is more safe and secure than traditional paychecks once your digital wallet is set up, making it a preferred method of payment for some.
What’s more, USDC is a stablecoin. This means that its price is pegged to the US dollar, which removes the risk of volatility that comes with cryptocurrency, while still preserving the advantages that crypto payments boast, such as speed and cost-efficiency.
Given that USDC is available on Coinbase and OnJuno, there is added access to customer support should you have any technical issues.
There are, of course, drawbacks to getting paid in USDC. While being pegged to the US dollar makes USDC significantly more stable than cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, there is still more volatility than there is from being paid in fiat currency.
So, the value of your wages can change without warning, though just not as dramatically as it could if you were being paid in Bitcoin or Ethereum. In contrast, when paid in local currency, people are able to maintain the value of their cash as inflation doesn’t act nearly as quickly as the cryptocurrency market does.
Moreover, as mentioned before, cryptocurrencies are largely unregulated at the moment. If and when that changes, the value of your digital wallet — and your earnings — could be subject to new laws or could be altered in unexpected ways.
With USDC in particular, though, while the fact that it is a stablecoin does reduce volatility, it is not nearly as popular as Bitcoin, which means that it can't be used in as many transactions. While it is pegged to the US dollar, stores and online platforms are still not accepting USDC or many cryptocurrencies as a viable payment option.
As such, fiat currency might be more useful in some cases which is why some people are hesitant to be paid in USDC.
Ultimately, being paid in USDC has its upsides, though critics of cryptocurrency payments argue that the risk with changing regulatory environments is immense. Whether you consider it a risk or not, it remains true that the world is changing and being paid in cryptocurrency is likely to become an increasingly common option available to employees going forward.
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Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.
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