Australian Baseball League team the Perth Heat say they will become the first club in professional sport to offer to pay its players and staff in Bitcoin as part of a new sponsorship agreement.
- The Perth Heat said people could use Bitcoin to pay for food and drink at the ballpark
- Heat boss Steve Nelkovski said players and staff had fully embraced the new system
- The club has appointed a chief Bitcoin officer
The Heat will allow them to accept Bitcoin as remuneration, or a combination of the cryptocurrency and traditional payments.
The club said there would be no mandate for players and staff to be paid in Bitcoin.
The Heat will accept Bitcoin for sponsorships, merchandise and even famed ballpark concessions like peanuts and crackerjacks.
The club has also appointed a chief Bitcoin officer to help move “the corporate treasury from dollars to Bitcoin”.
“We can set their allocations if they want to be paid part in Bitcoin, part in cash — we can do that,” Heat chief executive Steve Nelkovski told the ABC.
“If they want to be paid 10 per cent in Bitcoin and 90 per cent cash, we can do that.”
Nelkovski said modern technology and infrastructure made employing Bitcoin as a form of payment “incredibly easy to use”.
“We will set it up as to how each individual player or staff would like,” he said.
“We’re confident that in five years time they won’t be just our players but pretty much every professional athlete will be having part or all of their salaries paid in Bitcoin.”
Nelkovski said employees at the club “fully embraced the opportunities” that came with the move.
“By embracing the underlying values of the Bitcoin protocol we believe that the organisation can reach new levels of success both on and off the field and remind the world of the true value of sports,” he said.
Perth Heat chief Bitcoin officer Patrick O’Sullivan said the club was committed to exploring further opportunities in the use of cryptocurrency.
“This is not a one-off purchase to hedge against future uncertainties or inflationary pressures,” he said in a club statement.
“The Perth Heat are embracing the reality that the future of money and corporate treasuries will live on the Bitcoin blockchain.”
How will Bitcoin work as a salary currency?
A criticism levelled at cryptocurrency is its volatility on a daily basis.
For example, one Bitcoin was worth around $81,000 on Wednesday, down nearly $10,000 from nine days previously.
Nelkovski said protections were in place to ensure players would be paid the correct value of their salary in Bitcoin on payday, regardless of daily changes.
“In terms of their contracts, they’re not contracted to us to receive ‘X’ amount of bitcoin per season where we could have that fluctuation,” he said.
“Given how instant the payments are on the Lightning Network, we can safeguard ourselves against that and pay what is the required salary or wage for that week or fortnight — or whatever it might be — so that they’ll be protected against any fluctuations within the Bitcoin price.
“We need to pay, say a certain player ‘X’ amount on that day, and he’ll be paid that in Bitcoin.
“Now, if he decides to hold the Bitcoin and that loses value in a week’s time, well that’s his decision, in the same way if you hold it and the price goes up.”
Nelkovski said incorporating the cryptocurrency into the club’s finances would bring benefits, especially for overseas players.
He said paying them in Bitcoin would allow them to avoid setting up bank accounts in Australia when they arrived, and then shutting them down when they left.
The club’s first pay period including Bitcoin begins Friday.