Blockchain technology has always been synonymous with cryptocurrency. Today, it has morphed beyond just Bitcoins and cryptocurrency, and data. Blockchain can be used across diverse industries, including pharmaceutical, healthcare, government, and banking. In fact, blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt the way organizations operate today, even in core functions such as payroll.
What is blockchain technology?
Amazon Web Services (AWS) defines blockchain technology as “an advanced database mechanism that allows transparent information sharing within a business network.” Data stored within a blockchain are linked together in a chain and are chronologically consistent because one cannot delete or modify the chain without consensus from the network. This enables the blockchain database to be used as an unalterable ledger for tracking orders, payments, accounts, and other transactions. Concurrently, the database has built-in mechanisms that prevent unauthorized transaction entries and create consistency in the shared view of these transactions.
How does blockchain technology disrupt payroll?
Given that the payroll function is one that is heavily regulated and highly susceptible to fraudulent activities, a transparent blockchain database can reduce errors, prevent money laundering, and enhance efficiencies. Here are some potential use cases of blockchain technology within the payroll function.
Enhances data privacy and security
Robust data privacy and security protocols are crucial when it comes to payroll outsourcing, given that confidential and sensitive employee and payroll information are involved. Outsourced payroll vendors traditionally store data either in a single server or on the cloud platform. With blockchain’s distributed ledger, payroll payroll is organized in groups or “blocks”. When more payroll data is being stored, a chain of “blocks” is gradually being formed and stored publicly. This reduces this risk of data breaches and unauthorized accesses since key employee and payroll data is stored decentrally. Additionally, the usage of cryptography ensures that sensitive payroll data is being encrypted and can only be accessed by authorized parties, providing that added layer of protection.
Streamlines cross-border payments
Arguably, the greatest potential impact of blockchain is on global payroll management. Managing a global workforce involves processing payments across different countries. Adding to that is the constant fluctuations in currency conversion rates. Moreover, organizations that process international payroll often need to leverage local intermediaries, which adds to the processing time and additional fees.
Blockchain technology has the potential to streamline cross-border payments through its direct peer-to-peer platform. This eliminates the need for third-party financial institutions and payment transfers can be directly received almost immediately and anywhere. Such swift payment transfers are also highly beneficial in this era where the gig economy is booming. Gig workers such as freelancers and contractors often suffer from delayed payments or receive the shorter end of the stick due to uncompetitive currency conversion rates. Blockchain technology can handle exchange rates in real-time and ensure that payments are immediately released once the “task” is completed.
Ensures tamper-free and transparent transactions
Transparency in payroll transactions are crucial aspects of payroll outsourcing in order to ensure regulatory compliance and maintain mutual trust between employees and the payroll vendor. This is where blockchain technology has the potential to ensure tamper-free and transparent payroll transactions. Given that blockchain operates on an unalterable basis, this enables all parties to view the same payroll data in real-time, increasing transparency in salary payments. At the same time, every single payroll transaction is recorded on the blockchain ledger, further creating an immutable trail of information that can be audited at any time. Such level of pay transparency facilitates accurate payroll calculations, proper tax deductions, and compliance with labor regulations. Employees can also access their payroll records securely and verify the accuracy of their salary payments, reducing potential payroll disputes with the payroll vendor.
Improves payroll efficiency and accuracy
There is no doubt that blockchain technology offers the potential to revolutionize payroll outsourcing. With enhanced data security and the ability to facilitate cross-border and transparent salary payments, this streamlines administrative payroll processes for both employees, employers and even third-party payroll vendors. Payroll calculations, tax deductions, and reporting can be automated, thereby reducing errors and driving efficiencies. Concurrently, blockchain technology can easily be integrated with other HR systems, ensuring a seamless and centralized database for payroll and other key HR software. By embracing blockchain technology for the payroll function, this can lead to operational efficiencies and cost savings, and deliver an overall enhanced employee experience.