Receive salary in crypto assets (virtual currency)? Research suggests that younger employees prefer such ideas. Ohio-based startup Rise is targeting companies that want the flexibility to choose whether to receive their salaries in fiat currency or cryptocurrencies. The company’s project won the Consensus PitchFest competition held by CoinDesk last month.
More than a third of millennials and more than half of Gen Z employers want to receive 50% of their salary in crypto, according to a 2021 survey by investment advisory firm deVere. There are already a number of startups that support paying salaries in crypto assets, such as Bitwage, but Rise adds a new twist. Both companies and employees are given the choice of fiat currency or crypto assets, leveraging smart contracts for instant payments.
CoinDesk’s PitchFest received over 600 cryptocurrency, blockchain, and Web3-related startups. A jury team of investors including Electric Capital, CapitalG and CoinFund selected 12 finalists. Twelve teams competed on stage at Consensus in Texas. After a close final, Ryze was crowned champion.
Change route to payroll service company
Rise launched in January 2021 as a marketplace for companies and contractors in the crypto industry, but what they needed was a compliant crypto salary, not a new LinkedIn. Rise co-founder and CEO Hugo Finkelstein quickly realized it was a payment tool.
“Companies already knew their employees and didn’t need new connections.
In June 2021, Rise transformed into a salary service company, and in October of the same year, it received a pre-seed round from investors including Justin Mateen’s JAM Fund, co-founder of major dating app Tinder. successfully raised funds.
The current platform will be launched in April 2022. It recently closed a $3.8 million seed round led by Sino Global Capital and Polymorphic Capital, with participation from Draper Associates, Hashkey Capital, Paradigm Shift Capital, WW Ventures, P2P and Cosmo Capital. procured.
Rise supports 90 fiat currencies and 100 crypto assets on Ethereum or Ethereum-compatible Arbitrum, Polygon, Optimism and Avalanche payment of salary.
The platform itself is built on Arbitrum and currently supports 15 smart contracts that interact with each other and perform processes such as approving new users and distributing payments. Bitcoin is currently out of scope, but Finkelstein said it will be supported in the future.
Here’s how Rise works: Businesses register with Rise and deposit fiat or crypto assets into their accounts. Employees can choose to send fiat money to their bank accounts, send crypto assets to their accounts, or both in certain percentages.
Currently, the target is limited to contract employees, but there are plans to launch an employer of record (employment agency) service, and by undertaking personnel and salary payment operations, it will also be able to pay salaries to regular employees.
Rise already has 500 contractors and 70 companies as clients, and has paid more than $10 million in salaries to date. Finkelstein says he aims to grow the project tenfold by the end of the year. Currently, the company has 14 staff members and has already registered as a money service company, aiming to obtain a remittance business license in some states in the United States and a license in Europe.
Rise currently serves 190 countries. In the U.S., we also provide tax documentation for filing with the IRS, and we are planning to offer similar services in other countries.
The sector in which Ryze operates is teeming with quite a few competitors, including Bitwage, DEEL, Request, Remote, ADP, Utopia, and others, and is offering fiat and cryptocurrencies through US-based crypto exchanges, primarily Coinbase. It offers an asset payroll service (Rise does not disclose cryptocurrency brokers).
Some of these services already have thousands of users, but with more and more companies showing interest in paying salaries in crypto, Finken says the market is big enough. Mr. Stein thinks. Rise’s current customers include Ethereum staking protocol Lido.
Rise hopes to gain a competitive edge through the breadth of supported crypto assets and features that make it easier to make payments in crypto. For example, every Rise contract employee receives an NFT called Rise ID that includes information such as identity verification status, work history and salary history. Users can use this NFT in various cryptocurrency wallets and services.
Rise also plans to expand into the DeFi (decentralized finance) space, offering a “high yield” account that will allow users to leverage yield-producing products. Finkelstein acknowledged that the feature is not yet complete and that the current regulatory landscape is also a hurdle.
Before co-founding Rise with Andrew Maurer in 2019, Finkelstein served as marketing director for institutional crypto exchange LGO (acquired by Voyager Digital in 2020). Previously worked as a venture growth analyst for SeedInvest.
US CoinDesk plans to hold PitchFest at “Consensus 2024” as well, spotlighting promising startups around the world.
｜Translation and editing: Akiko Yamaguchi, Takayuki Masuda
｜Image: Finkelstein, CEO of Rise, who won the PitchFest sponsored by CoinDesk in the United States (far right)
｜ Original: Payroll Startup Rise Wins CoinDesk’s 2023 Pitchfest Contest