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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 02, 2014

DISH Becomes First Pay-TV Operator to Accept Bitcoin

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

DISH Network is planning to start accepting bitcoin, becoming the first pay-TV provider to do so. The digital currency is controversial, but the satellite operator said that its goal is to provide consumers as many options as possible for payments and remote-based purchases.

“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 executive vice president and COO. “Bitcoin is becoming a preferred way for some people to transact and we want to accommodate those individuals.”

Bitcoin’s lack of traceability is similar to cash, meaning that it has become a currency of choice for not only privacy aficionados but also cybercriminals. It’s also a fluctuating currency whose value can oscillate quickly on the open market, not being tied to any one currency or even a gold standard. It’s proved hackable too: Mt. Gox, one of the largest bitcoin exchanges, went bankrupt after thieves made off with all of its reserves.

DISH has selected Coinbase as the payment processor for bitcoin transactions with customers who choose to pay their bill online with the bitcoin wallet of their choice. DISH will use Coinbase’s Instant Exchange feature to exchange bitcoin payments to U.S. dollars at the moment of the transaction.

Han said, “As a bitcoin payment processor, Coinbase will help DISH make the payment experience easy for our customers and make it easy for DISH to receive immediate credit in dollars, at an attractive cost for DISH.”

The bitcoin payment option will be available for DISH customers choosing to make one-time payments on mydish.com starting in the third quarter. Customers will of course still have the option to make any payment online via credit card, debit card or bank account.

“We’re excited to support DISH and their current and new subscribers for their bitcoin transactions,” said Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam. “This is a large step forward in the growing momentum of customers paying companies in bitcoin for things we do every day, like watching premium TV.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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