Dish Network will become the first TV provider to accept Bitcoin as a valid form of payment starting in Q3 2014. But Dish will not only be the first TV provider to accept the virtual currency, it will also be the largest company in any industry to add Bitcoin to the list of accepted payment methods alongside credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts.
In a statement, Dish explained that it will be using Coinbase as its payment processor to turn the Bitcoins into dollars. This move reflects positively on Bitcoin as a payment method across all industries and it is particularly good for the companies involved, Dish and Coinbase.
Dish Network said that it has made this decision to accommodate the small percentage of its subscribers who may genuinely prefer to use Bitcoin instead of a more traditional payment method. There are some advantages to Bitcoin such as an increased level of privacy, lower fees, and greater security, so there are people who have tried to use the cryptocurrency as a replacement for all other payment methods.
“We always want to deliver choice and convenience for our customers and that includes the method they use to pay their bills,” said Bernie Han, Dish's executive vice president. “Bitcoin is becoming a preferred way for some people to transact and we want to accommodate those individuals.”
Even proponents of Bitcoin are not attached to Bitcoin itself but rather the idea of cryptocurrencies in general. Those who have become involved in the Bitcoin community hope that the currency's core aspects will one day turn into the payment system of the future, though that payment system would not necessarily have to be Bitcoin. Businesses that are accepting the currency provide a way for Bitcoin-only consumers to gain access to necessary services and those companies also future-proof themselves in case cryptocurrencies do take off sometime in the next five to 10 years.
There are undisputed issues that go along with allowing people to pay for things with a virtual currency like Bitcoin. Over the past 12 months, the currency’s value has skyrocketed to $1,000, plummeted to $100 and is now sitting at around $550. Despite all of its faults, the U.S. dollar is an effective payment method because someone can accept it one day and know that his piece of paper will be worth the same amount five years later. The same cannot usually be said for things like Bitcoin that operate more like a stock than a fiat currency.
Payment processors like Coinbase have found ways to deal with Bitcoin's value fluctuation, effectively getting rid of any risk for companies like Dish Network. This has allowed other corporations like Overstock to accept the virtual currency, since payment processors allow them to deal in dollars while still accepting Bitcoin. Smaller retail stores have also begun using the currency, but it is far from widespread and it is still not as easy to use Bitcoin as it is to use a debit card.