You’ll soon be able to pay your TV company in Bitcoin. The future is now.


(Reuters/Rick Wilking)

We've been talking for months about how Bitcoin has been slowly getting more integrated into the mainstream. Well, now the cryptocurrency is taking a bigger step in that direction: Beginning this summer, Dish Network, one of the largest satellite TV operators in the country, is going to start accepting bitcoins as a form of payment.

The company said Thursday that it's partnering with the virtual wallet company Coinbase to help process the transactions. Users who want to pay with bitcoins will do so through Coinbase, which will instantly convert the bitcoins into dollars and forward them to Dish.

"Bitcoin is becoming a preferred way for some people to transact and we want to accommodate those individuals," said Dish executive vice president Bernie Han in a statement.

Paying something so mundane as a TV bill with a currency whose value seems to keep going up and up might sound like a waste. But with 14.1 million subscribers nationwide, Dish is in the interesting position of being able to give a huge range of people the opportunity to try Bitcoin for the first time.

You can already buy real-world goods and services in many places with the virtual currency. Most of the outlets that accept it, however, are small retail outlets like coffee shops and restaurants. Online vendors like Overstock.com take bitcoins, too, but that makes sense: An Internet company taking Internet cash.

TV seems different. Interacting with your TV provider somehow feels more real, less abstract than interacting with an e-commerce site. So by extension, paying for television with bitcoins may get people over one of the cryptocurrency's biggest conceptual roadblocks: What is it used for?

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecommunications and the Internet. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.

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