Announcing the product through a blog post, Bitwage’s CEO Jonathan Chester revealed that his company has been testing the product for 10 months now. Companies that use the product will allow their employees to invest both traditional and Roth 401(k) plans into Bitcoin.
Retiring on Bitcoin
Bitwage has partnered with Gemini on the project, with the latter providing a secure and compliant exchange solution. It also brought Kingdom Trust on board to provide custody solutions. Seattle-based Leading Retirement Solutions will take care of the record-keeping and administration of the program, ensuring compliance with the IRS and the Department of Labor.
The product comes at a time when many businesses in the U.S are depending on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to navigate the tough economic times. This is exactly the demographic Bitwage had in mind, Chester says.
The PPP loans require employers to direct at least 75% of the funds towards payroll expenses. The government regards retirement benefits as payroll expenses, but it excludes them from the $100,000 yearly salary cap per employee.
This gives companies an opportunity to provide matching or profit-sharing contributions to employee 401k accounts in order to help close the gap to receive full loan forgiveness. Together with the PPP program, the Bitwage Bitcoin 401(k) Plan allows employers to get more out of their PPP loans while providing their employees new and innovative investment options.
Planning for the Future
Bitwage has grand plans for the future of the product and is preparing to integrate Gemini’s trading platform directly inside the 401(k) plan. This will allow traders, both retail and institutional, to access the same Gemini trading services inside tax-incentivized retirement accounts. The company also hinted at adding other cryptocurrencies in the future.
Launched in 2014 and based in San Francisco, Bitwage is one of the dominant players in the crypto payroll sector. It allows employers to easily pay their employees in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Bitcoin Cash.
The company also allows freelancers on top sites like Upwork and Toptal to receive their payments through digital currencies. This allows them to avoid legacy payment systems which are quite expensive in regions like Africa and Southeast Asia.