I have a very long list of topics to write about for this site. A significant portion of those topics are reviews. In that category there is only one that falls under the Payroll header: Bitwage. They are the only company out there so far providing this service, as far as I know. And if they keep providing the same level of quality as they do now it’ll be very difficult for anyone else to break into the space.
Bitwage is a service that allows a person to receive any portion of their paycheck in Bitcoin. This is a service that is compatible with any payroll system that offers direct deposit. After signing up Bitwage assigns a bank account number. A person gives that number to their employer and tells them how much of their check they want sent there. Come payday a deposit is made. The next day Bitcoin is purchased and delivered. And during their promotional phase there are no fees for the service. This is, without a doubt, the easiest way to automatically buy Bitcoin.
One of the really neat things is that you can select delivery method as well. One way is to give Bitwage one Bitcoin address to use repeatedly, but I’ve mentioned how much I frown upon that. Another is to log in and give them a new address every week but that’s a pain I don’t want to deal with. A third is to give them a list of addresses, but I hate sweeping and importing manually. I like things automated. In a recent update Bitwage announced BIP-32 support. You can now give them an extended public key with which they can generate and send to a list of addresses you control, but no ability to generate the private keys associated with them.
But Bitwage also offers several services aside from straight payroll delivery. You can choose to have Bitwage hold your Bitcoin in savings. Or you can choose to have them convert it to your local currency and hold it, or a foreign currency and hold it, or even one of four commodities and hold it. This allows you to diversify if you’re into commodity trading or don’t trust Bitcoin to hold its value.
This whole process is transparent with tracking codes. It reduces support costs and thus transaction fees. It also simplifies the process of paying employees in large multinational companies since there are no conversion costs, payment system translations, and the like. But, as I mentioned above, there are no fees during their promotional period.
The last service Bitwage offers is a debit card tied to your account. With this card you can spend your Bitcoin anywhere that takes Visa. It’s usable at retailers and ATMs nearly worldwide. Which brings me to the portion of the review where I have to start listing the things that I don’t like.
While the debit card option is nice for over 170 countries the United States is not on the list. The US is the largest user of Bitcoin at this point. I’m guessing that it’s because the card is backed by Xapo, which isn’t licensed to issue a card here yet. If Bitwage partnered with Shift, this would be a great move.
One other issue I ran into is that the bank accounts used aren’t tied to one user, so if your direct deposit doesn’t have the complete information on it it could get lost. Or, as I tried to do, if you have another payment processor that doesn’t follow the same direct deposit protocols send payments to that account you have to notify Bitwage beforehand where it’s coming from and how much it is so they can tie it to you in order to process it. This makes it hard to process the occasional contracting role, credit card initiated, payment from Stripe that you want converted into Bitcoin, for instance.
The only other gripe I have is that the notification system is slow. I get paid from my full time job every other Friday. I assumed I would get notified by my bank of the direct deposit Friday morning, from Bitwage that day that they received a deposit, that they’d converted it to Bitcoin that night or Saturday morning, and then of delivery of the Bitcoin Saturday during the day. In reality I hear from my bank that I’ve been paid Friday morning and Saturday I hear from Bitwage through email that all the other stuff has happened… but my Bitcoin wallet tells me before the email gets delivered. I thought the Android app might resolve this, but it’s fed off the same system.
But that system works and does exactly what my employer will not do: allow me to collect a portion of my paycheck in Bitcoin. Coupled with the Shift debit card I’ll probably elect to convert more of my check into Bitcoin than I have previously. It’ll just take a couple extra transfers to get funds where I need them. Now, if only I could find a reliable system in the US to pay my bills in Bitcoin online I’d have Bitwage convert it all… but that’s another review to come.
Bitwage is another must have if you’re serious about Bitcoin. Their service, customer support, and system are all top of the line. I highly recommend their service and use it myself. Sign up using the link below: