Ifunanyachi Achara, 23, A fifth-year forward for Toronto FC, takes around fifty percent of his Major League Soccer (MLS) salary in bitcoin by syncing his accounts with a third-party exchange service. He switched to global payments leader Bitwage in February after months of self-executing his bitcoin trades with Binance.
Achara, 23, is one of the first pro athletes to go public with his choice to receive part of his salary in Bitcoin. National Football League players Sean Culkin and Russell Okung currently receive a portion of their salaries in Bitcoin also. Achara said bitcoin is a hedge against fiat inflation in Nigeria, his home country, where inflation for the the Nigerian naira hit a four-year high north of 18% in March.
“The rate of inflation is killing us,” Achara said in an interview. “The more the U.S. prints money during COVID to help people, the more it devalues our currency. So for my family, when I send them money home, I send them bitcoin.”
Expatriates sending money to their home countries have seen the advantages of bitcoin remittances for years. Bitcoin’s decentralized nature allows users to avoid high wire-transfer fees. In the case of Nigeria, according to Achara, it allowed him to skirt a major monetary blockade. The Nigerian government has been known to shut down private citizens’ bank accounts for various reasons.
Mr. Achara said, “If I wanted to send money to my parents to move away from a state that I felt like was really violent, I couldn’t. I couldn’t send them money to the bank. It was just through Bitcoin that I was able to send my family money more easily and efficiently and as fast as possible.”
Bitcoin As A Store of Value
Many Nigerians are storing their wealth in foreign or digital currency, according to Bloomberg. Achara’s family is just doing it in bitcoin. “They occasionally trade their bitcoin for the local currency”, he said. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s central bank is apparently closing bank accounts of crypto traders.
Achara is the first pro athlete to use Bitwage for payroll services. Although CEO Jonathan Chester said the company is “in conversations with other athletes, musicians and famous influencers.”
According to Mr. Chester, “We have been helping people get paid in bitcoin for seven years, but this is the first year that we are really starting to see bitcoin payroll pick up with mainstream markets.”