Bitcoin has certainly been in the press a lot recently, as its value has soared to peak at over 5,000 times what is was originally worth. Yet for many people it remains shrouded in mystery. As Bitcoin’s use around the planet grows, here we look at some of the pros and cons of accepting payment in Bitcoin for translation work.
If you’re not already familiar with it, Bitcoin is a digital currency that works on a peer-to-peer basis from anywhere that the internet can be accessed. It is growing daily in popularity and its usage is already enabled in a wide range of online stores, as well as physical venues such as restaurants.
Using Bitcoin has several advantages over more established forms of currency and in a digital environment it makes sense for users to be able to accept a digital payment. So should you accept Bitcoin for your translation work? Let’s consider.
Firstly, Bitcoin is a truly global currency. You can be paid by anyone in the world from any country, without having to worry about international currency transfers and the associated delays and exchange commissions that these can bring. For translators, this can be highly advantageous.
Secondly, the peer-to-peer nature of Bitcoin means that it can be used without the fees associated with making payments through banks or through services such as PayPal. By cutting out the middle service, fees are substantially reduced or eradicated completely. This means that both you and the person paying you get better value out of the transaction.
Of course, as with things in life, Bitcoin has disadvantages as well as advantages. So, what do you need to look out for if you are considering accepting Bitcoin as payment for your translation services?
Given the newness of Bitcoin (it was launched in 2009), the currency is open to system manipulation and scams. A variety of these are likely to come to light in the years ahead, as the currency matures and becomes more widely used.
The volatility of Bitcoin is also something to be wary of. Regular currencies can fluctuate wildly and Bitcoin can do so even more dramatically, just look at the coin's recent dive. While this can be a good thing (when it goes up), it can also mean that the payment you accepted yesterday in Bitcoin is worth far less today. The associated lack of regulation, as Bitcoin has not been owned or formalised by any country, furthers this worry.
The really tricky part about Bitcoin though is the technical knowledge that you need to have or develop in order to use it. You need to understand the online services required to use it properly and ensure it is digitally stored in the correct way. Such activities are not for everyone.
The answer to this will be unique to each translator. If you feel that the advantages listed above outweigh the disadvantages, then Bitcoin might be the perfect currency for you. If not, perhaps it is best to stick with traditional currencies for the time being.
Would you consider accepting Bitcoin for your translation work? Share your thoughts in the comment box.