Buying crypto is easy (see our guide: How to Buy Cryptocurrency and Keep It in a Secure Wallet).
But what about earning crypto?
As the market evolves, more and more people are keen to receive payment in bitcoin and other digital assets for goods and services rendered.
In the early days of Bitcoin, if you weren’t a miner, one of the few ways to acquire it was by using a ‘bitcoin faucet’ that dispensed BTC every time you completed a simple task. Nowadays, many forward-looking companies – particularly tech startups – are happy to pay staffers and freelancers in crypto. Similarly, there are several ways for gamers to stack satoshi’s (the bitcoin equivalent to ‘cents’ or ‘pennies’) and claim crypto simply for streaming and engaging with their audience.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at all the different ways you can earn crypto.
We’ll also consider the benefits awaiting businesses who elect to both pay employees and freelancers in crypto, and accept it as a mode of payment.
Earn Crypto As A Gamer
The video game industry is worth close to $160 billion. While in the past gamers had no avenue for monetizing their activities in the virtual world, that has changed thanks to the emergence of content-sharing platforms like Twitch and DLive, new monetization models including subscription services, and the proliferation of esports tournaments.
According to The State of Online Gaming 2020, an in-depth report based on responses from 4,500 global gamers, over 38% would like to become professionals providing they could support themselves financially while doing so. Clearly, the astronomic success of individuals like PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg), Nina (Tyler Blevins), and Preston Arsement has inspired a generation.
With gamers being largely young and tech-savvy, it’s no surprise that some of them prefer to earn crypto rather than fiat currency. And there are several platforms that allow them to do just that.
A blockchain-based live streaming platform, DLive uses its own “virtual reward point system” known as Lemon. In the DLive ecosystem, Lemon is a virtual currency used to reward gamers or pay for subscriptions. The unit price of Lemon is fixed at $0.012 USD, and payouts are made to gamers bi-weekly. The minimum threshold for payouts is 4,250 Lemons ($51 USD), but because DLive is owned by TRON, gamers not domiciled in the United States can also request payment in TRX, BTT, or USDT stablecoins. Lemons cannot be transacted outside of the platform.
Rally is a little different from platforms like DLive and Twitch. Essentially, it was designed to enable gamers to earn without having to rely on the aforementioned services, via a separate economy where supporters can buy, donate and hold unique assets known as Creator Coins. Since these Creator Coins are entirely unique to the streamer in question, and have monetary value like any other asset with a finite supply and volume, they can help gamers earn even if they get censored from a platform or leave for any reason.
To quote Co-Founder Amit Ranade, “Creator Coins empower content creators to build a whole new marketplace around their brand and community, opening the floodgates for both content creators and their fans to participate in a greatly expanded creator economy.”
An Amazon-owned streaming service with over 16 million daily users, Twitch has had a love-hate relationship with cryptocurrency. Early in 2018 the platform accepted subscription payments in both bitcoin and bitcoin cash, but in mid-2019, it quietly abandoned support for the assets. Then, in 2020, Twitch flipped the script once more, going so far as to offer a 10% discount to subscribers who paid in crypto.
In fact, Twitch has expanded its crypto support to include ethereum (ETH) and USD-pegged stablecoins such as GUSD, USDC, PAX and BUSD. While Twitch gamers themselves can’t, at this time, earn cryptocurrency, they can accrue in-game virtual assets known as Bits (each one’s worth 1 cent), which are redeemable for fiat. Perhaps in the near future Twitch will let gamers swap Bits for bitcoin?
Of course, you don’t have to be a professional gamer with an army of devoted supporters to earn cryptocurrency from gaming. Immersive Virtual Reality games like Decentraland, Sandbox and Somnium Space have their own economies and currencies, meaning players can buy and sell virtual land and in-game assets represented by Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Gamers can develop experiences and charge others for entry, rent out virtual land or participate in events run by fellow players.
The Enjin Platform specializes in minting NFTs for the gaming market and helping developers (and, in turn, gamers) integrate blockchain and monetize gameplay. Billions of assets have been created to date, each backed by Enjin Coin (ENJ), an ERC20 token with real-world value. ENJ is available for trading on many of the world’s top crypto exchanges.
Believe it or not, there are even platforms looking to pay those who watch gamers live-stream their exploits online. San Francisco startup Refereum, for instance, is working on ways to pay viewers in Tron’s TRX coin and BitTorrent’s BTT token, following a partnership agreement struck with the companies in 2019.
There are a great many decentralized applications (dApps), particularly on Ethereum, TRON and EOS, that bring monetization to the world of gaming. To date, the most successful has been CryptoKitties, the objective of which is to breed collectible cats. At the peak of the viral game’s popularity, one player sold a CryptoKitty for $170,000 worth of ETH.
Earn Crypto As A Freelancer
Not a gamer? Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to earn cryptocurrency as a freelancer, whatever your profession and whether you’re looking for a one-off gig or full-time employment.
Crypto-friendly freelancing jobs sites include:
Naturally, a large number of employers willing to pay in crypto already work in the sector, and are looking to hire engineers, smart contract developers, PR people with contacts in the blockchain press, etc.
New jobs networks are coming online all the time. Keep3r Network, for instance, is “a decentralized keeper network for projects that need external devops and for external teams to find keeper jobs.” It’s a rather technical process compared to standard jobs sites, with employers able to register jobs by submitting proposals via governance – but it’s another option for crypto job-seekers.
There are a few benefits of using these platforms over more established freelance portals like Fiverr, Upwork and PeoplePerHour. For a start, you can retain a greater degree of personal privacy. What’s more, you can earn even if you don’t have a bank account – crypto is as close to a frictionless, borderless currency as it’s possible to get.
Freelancers can also avoid the increasingly unfair commissions associated with traditional jobs sites. And there’s another bugbear: when paid via bank transfer, it can often take a week or longer for payments to clear. And that’s after the freelance site has taken its cut.
If you’re an employer interested in paying staff or contractors in cryptocurrency, a platform like Bitwage can help get you set up.
Earn Crypto As A Business
As mentioned, businesses can profit from cutting a middleman (e.g. a bank) out of the picture and accepting cryptocurrency as a mode of payment. Fast, secure and low-cost transactions aren’t the only benefit; companies tap into a wider user base, including 1.7 billion who don’t have access to a bank account.
Although there are only around 55 million blockchain wallet users at the time of writing, that number is growing all the time. With PayPal recently confirming support for cryptocurrencies, digital assets can now be spent at 26 million merchant stores. Given that there are 346 million PayPal accounts worldwide, it’s a major win for the industry.
And there’s another benefit for companies who let customers pay in crypto: because blockchain payments are irreversible, there’s no risk of chargebacks. In a 2019 survey, risk manager LexisNexis estimated that merchants lose as much as $3.13 to every dollar in chargeback costs.
According to coinmap.org, there are over 18,600 businesses that directly accept cryptocurrency, including cafes, grocery stores, retailers and travel firms. There are, of course, many millions of retailers who accept Visa and Mastercard, both of whom have partnered with a slew of crypto platforms in recent years (Wirex, Revolut, Binance, Coinbase, etc).
Crypto debit cards have become commonplace, and though the merchant doesn’t receive digital assets directly (the card issuer automatically converts to fiat), the involvement of trusted firms like Visa and Mastercard has helped the industry immensely, providing a frictionless way for everyday users to spend their tokens.
So, what if a business decides that it wants to accept cryptocurrency in exchange for goods or services? Well, a number of options are at their disposal. One of the most popular methods is to sign up to Coinbase Commerce, a route taken by over 8,000 merchants to date. All payments facilitated by Coinbase Commerce are fully decentralized and peer-to-peer, with a flexible API offered to fully-fledged e-commerce platforms.
Although Coinbase doesn’t charge merchants to use their Commerce integration, the withdrawal of funds entails the usual network fee to miners.
BTCPay Server is another option for integrating crypto payments. A self-hosted, open-source payment processor, BTCPay is code, not a company; as such, payments are direct, with merchants receiving crypto directly into their wallet. The great thing about BTCPayServer is that it doesn’t have a central point of failure – nobody controls it except for the user running it.
BTCPay Server can also be integrated with major e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, and PrestaShop. Actually, there are a range of plugins for WordPress, WooCommerce and the like, ranging from Bitpay and Blockonomics to TripleA and CoinGate. Expanding your accepted payments methods to include crypto isn’t difficult.
Speculation might’ve been the primary use case for crypto in its first decade, but these days there are endless ways to fatten your bitcoin bankroll. Gaming, working and selling goods are just a few of them. However you choose to earn, know that you’re doing your part to make the crypto ecosystem stronger while boosting your earnings.