In 2019, Alex Bouaziz and Shuo Wang founded Deel, a startup that aims to help companies compliantly hire and pay talent remotely all around the world.
The pair’s mission was earnest and their vision that remote work was here to stay preceded the COVID-19 pandemic, which only fueled demand for its offering.
Deel claims to allow businesses to hire employees and contractors in less than 5 minutes without needing a local entity. It also says that it gives companies the ability to pay teams in more than 150 currencies with “just a click.”
“We want to enable companies to be able to hire anyone, anywhere,” Bouaziz told TechCrunch. “Talent is everywhere, but opportunity isn’t. So we want to level that a little bit and enable companies to hire anyone, but more importantly give them the experience they deserve regardless of where they’re from.”
Bouaziz certainly walks the walk, confessing that he’s “never worked in an office” in his life.
Clearly, Bouaziz and Wang were on to something. Deel in October was valued at $5.5 billion after a $425 million Series D raise. It is growing like crazy and refreshingly transparent about that growth, with Bouaziz very publicly sharing in December that his company in 2021 “went from $4M to $50M+ ARR, 50 to 550+ people in 60+ countries &… raised over $600M.”
Last year, Deel launched “Crypto Withdrawals” for contractors, allowing anyone paid through Deel to withdraw a percentage of their earnings directly to their Coinbase account in Bitcoin, Ethereum, USDC and Solana and Dash for almost instant withdrawals.
But until now, employers using Deel did not have the option to use crypto to pay remote employees.
Now the startup is taking its mission a step further by giving companies a way to fund payroll in crypto, starting with USDC because “it’s the fastest-growing stablecoin, and since it’s pegged to the dollar, there’s less room for volatility,” according to Bouaziz. Allowing businesses to pay their international teams using crypto is an option that will likely be welcomed by many of Deel’s more than 6,000 existing customers, which include Coinbase, Shopify and Dropbox, among others.
According to the Deel team: “Flexibility shouldn’t just be about where you hire, but also how you pay your team.”
The new product feature is different from “Crypto Withdrawals” in that employers will now be able to instantly pay their teams in USDC versus leaving it up to their workforce to withdraw funds in crypto, according to the company.
Specifically, companies that hold their money in USDC can make a payment directly to Deel via their Coinbase account to cover payroll and payments for their global team. Once the business has paid the money into Deel, contractors can withdraw in over 150 currencies, including crypto.
If companies are operating primarily in crypto, Deel says, they don’t have to worry about paying any of the exchange fees to convert it into, say USD, before they pay their employees. They can just pay directly in crypto.
“It’s an end-to-end crypto payment experience, with fewer transaction and currency fees, plus, it cuts out the need for businesses and contractors to hold money in a bank account,” it says.
To Deel, the move is the next step in mainstream adoption of crypto.
“This is game-changing for crypto companies,” Bouaziz said.
Deel says the move was prompted by “soaring” demand for crypto payroll, both from businesses that want to pay their team using their company’s crypto balance and from team members who wanted to get paid in crypto. For example, the startup says it has seen a 10% month-to-month increase in demand for crypto salary payments.
Some other fun stats from the company: 2% of payments were withdrawn in crypto between July and December of 2021. About $4.7 million dollars was paid out to employees in crypto via Deel in December 2021, up 49% from November 2021. Interestingly, here’s the breakdown of crypto withdrawals by region: LATAM (52%); EMEA (34%); NAM (7%); APAC (7%).
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