Just days after Bitcoin rose above $550 in price, U.S. satellite television provider Dish Network has announced that it will become the largest company to ever accept the cryptocurrency as payment. With 14 million subscribers, annual revenue of $13.9 billion, and 34,000 employees around the world, Dish dwarfs the company that had until this point been the biggest accepter of Bitcoin, Overstock, an online megastore that does $1.3 billion in annual revenue. Dish will begin to accept bitcoin in the third quarter of 2013 with Coinbase acting as payment processor. Coinbase, one of the most prominent and powerful Bitcoin startups in the world, also processes payments for Overstock.
Dish Network customers will soon be able to pay their bills in Bitcoin in a move that pushes the virtual currency a little further into the mainstream. With about 14 million subscribers, Dish Network is one of the country’s largest pay-television operators. Starting in the third-quarter, it said, customers will be able to make individual monthly payments using Bitcoin. “It’s another big milestone,” said Gil Luria, an analyst with Wedbush Securities who has studied Bitcoin. “This is a mainstream company with mainstream leadership that’s decided to embrace Bitcoin and what Bitcoin technology offers.” While Dish is not the first company to accept Bitcoin, it claims to be the largest. Retailers including Overstock.com, Virgin America and others already accept Bitcoin. Users acquire Bitcoins by buying them from one another on online exchanges, or unlocking new coins by solving complicated mathematical equations. When it first appeared in 2009, Bitcoin offered a cheaper payment system that allowed people to bypass the established banking industry.