Costa Rica Allows Workers to Be Paid in Cryptocurrency—But Will it Happen?

A recent news report suggests that Costa Rica’s labor laws permit the country’s workers to be paid in cryptocurrency:

“Recently it was announced that Costa Rican workers could choose to receive part of their salary in crypto-currencies. According to lawyer Rolando Perlaza from Nassar Abogados, an important Central American law firm, ‘this is a trend that could take hold in the country.’”

It may indeed catch on: crypto has been received well in the country thus far and is gaining widespread adoption. Costa Rican businesses are accepting cryptocurrency, and there have been a number of recent Bitcoin ATM installations in the country. Renewable energy sources have also made crypto mining popular in Costa Rica, as evidenced by this solar-powered mining farm.

But this form of payment is first and foremost an option; crypto will not replace Costa Rica’s traditional currency. Crypto is not handled or treated as currency by the National Bank of Costa Rica, and the legal minimum wage must be made available in traditional currency. However, additional wages may be paid in goods and non-monetary assets. As such, employees may be able to choose to be given part of their wages in cryptocurrency.

Furthermore, this is not a new law or regulation, just an interpretation of the labor code. It is already the case that workers can be partially paid in goods if desired, yet there are no widespread reports of workers demanding this to begin with. Other reports suggest that salaries that are above minimum wage are paid in traditional money and are determined by the labor market:

“In most cases the wages you will pay an employee are set by the market and are most are above the minimum wage scale.”

It’s worth keeping in mind that, so far, this is merely a statement from a prominent law firm; any other “recent announcement” is elusive. Employers, employees, and government representatives have not yet weighed in. Only time will tell whether a demand for crypto salaries exists in Costa Rica and other countries.

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