Top 10 UFC fighters sign Bitcoin payment deal: ‘I’m doing it for my future’

MIAMI — Top 10 UFC flyweight Matheus Nicolau says he signed a contract to be paid entirely in Bitcoin to secure his future financially.

Nicolau, who lives in Brazil but accepts a paycheck from the United States, signed the contract on March 21 and is the first Latin American UFC athlete to receive a bitcoin paycheck.

“Some friends support me and even help me. I have friends who already know the Bitcoin world,” Nicolau told FOX Business. “[O]others are surprised, and they want to know more. My family is open-minded. … They trust my choices because they know I’m doing it for my future.”

Matheus Nicolau, top 10 UFC flyweight (Bitwage/Fox News)

The deal was made possible through a payroll service called Bitwage, which paid out more than $150 million in Bitcoin to 150,000 users and 2,000 businesses, said Bitwage CEO Jonathan Chester, who previously worked for Oracle, at FOX Business during the Bitcoin 2022 conference.

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“We’re the most compliant solution out there. You can be sure it’s automated, compliant, and your employees are trained and pushed in the right direction, because we’re an extremely conservative organization,” Chester said. “You can’t trade on our platform. We don’t have a wallet, so we can’t lose your money. And we only offer top-notch coins that we know will last five years or so. more, and that’s Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Stablecoin.”

Nicolau says he’s “putting everything into bitcoin” after discovering the world’s most popular cryptocurrency a few years ago. Times when Bitcoin “goes down a bit is an opportunity to invest more money in Bitcoin,” the UFC fighter said when asked if he’s concerned about the cryptocurrency’s volatility. which was valued at around $42,800 on Friday afternoon.

Admission to Bitcoin Conference 2022 (Audrey Conklin/Fox News)

“I really believe in Bitcoin,” he said. “You see it’s something that’s really growing.”

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In Brazil, he explained, depositing a U.S. paycheck into a Brazilian bank takes too long, and the fees associated with the process take up a significant portion of his paycheck.

“The bank… blocked me, and it took over a month to get my money back,” he said. “Right now, I’ve decided how much I’m going to put into cryptocurrency, how much I’m going to put into US banks, and how much I’m going to put into Brazilian banks.”

Matheus Nicolau, top 10 UFC flyweight

Matheus Nicolau, top 10 UFC flyweight (Bitwage/Fox News)

He cited a 2021 study by DeVere that found more than a third of Millennials and half of Gen Z would be willing to receive more than half of their salary in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency.

And it’s not just the athletes. Bitwage works with retail workers, rideshare drivers, municipal workers, service companies and more.

“It’s not just tech and crypto companies, but professional services that fit into it, and one of the reasons is that…it has one of the highest take-up rates for benefits not critical, with the critical benefits being healthcare and 401k,” Chester explained.

Matheus Nicolau, top 10 UFC flyweight

Matheus Nicolau, top 10 UFC flyweight (Bitwage/Fox News)

Here’s how it works, according to Chester: First, Bitwage offers a B2B (business to business) service to integrate Bitcoin “as an after-tax deduction” for employees, similar to the mechanism a company would use for a Roth 401k account. , he mentioned. Second, Bitwage offers a B2C (business-to-consumer) service where you “connect direct deposit to the payroll system, and you choose…the percentage you want to be in Bitcoin or dollars.”

Chester said Bitwage has customers in the United States and around the world in countries like Brazil, Argentina and Nigeria.

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“2020 was a big inflection point for us. With COVID came remote working. You’ve heard that a lot of people like Brazilians, Argentinians and Nigerians are all coming into our system to get paid for international work. … But also, all the inflation has also helped us grow our business in the US, and with the growth of cryptocurrency in general,” he explained.

People who live in the countries he mentioned see bitcoin payments “like a lifeline,” while Americans see them more as an investment or inflation hedge, Chester said.


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Elaine R. Knight