What's the catch

“Professional soccer is basically what every boy growing up in Nigeria wants to do,” said Ifunanyachi Achara – Major League Soccer (MLS) Forward at Toronto FC.

But does every boy dream of getting paid in Bitcoin? Well, maybe, now that it’s a massive trend in sports. Everywhere you look – football players, Sacramento Kings, Bitcoin companies sponsoring teams – crypto is taking over the minds of pro athletes.

But it’s a little bit different with Achara. When drafted to Toronto, he was put in a place to help support his friends and family back home in Nigeria: a nation that is famous for its technological advances but infamous for its inflation and unstable economy. Yuck. And through his connection to Nigeria – and a desire to help his family – Achara was lured by the siren call of Bitcoin. Bitwage, a company that helps people get paid in Bitcoin, recently partnered with Achara to make this happen

Achara was born and raised in Enugu, Nigeria. He moved to the United States in 2014 – barely speaking English – and quickly dedicated much of his time to playing league soccer. In 2016, he attended college at Georgetown University and played for the Hoyas. Achara was appointed team captain in 2019 and led the team to the 2019 NCAA title.

After graduation, he was signed to Toronto FC as a Forward. Since his signing, Achara has been an outspoken advocate on racial issues, SARS, and social injustice in Nigeria.

However, once Achara was signed, he began to think about what to do with his MLS salary. He researched all the traditional investments, but with the solitude provided by coronavirus restrictions, he began to look into bitcoin.

“I’ve been in Toronto ever since COVID started and haven’t gotten out much – basically in quarantine – so I’ve had a lot of time to research bitcoin. Eventually, I went down a rabbit hole and fell in love.”

But there was a problem. Living in Canada, Achara was not able to use many of the pre-existing exchanges. This problem was solved with Bitwage.

“I wish I knew about Bitwage earlier,” he said, “I would’ve been able to buy bitcoin through my paycheck without worrying about an exchange.” Bitwage helped Achara gain quick and easy access to bitcoin through his MLS salary. Not only was he able to steadily stack Bitcoin overtime, but he was also able to assist his loved ones.

Sending money to family and friends in Nigeria with ease and convenience was one of the biggest advantages of Achara getting paid in bitcoin through Bitwage. Sending money wires to Nigerian banks is often a fraught exercise: nearly impossible with his Wells Fargo account. The bank required him to physically be in the U.S. This, and other logistical challenges, forced Achara to think creatively.

Bitcoin allowed him to bypass the banks and put money into the crypto wallets of the people he cares about overseas. “Seeing how it immediately helped people back home with the lowest cost changed everything,” he said. Receiving his salary in bitcoin, especially through a company like Bitwage, saves Achara the headache of going through the confusing process of, well, buying bitcoin normally.

He’s now able to acquire bitcoin for himself and send the rest back home. What athlete will be next?