Video services

Dish Says Yes to Bitcoin

Content isn't the only thing going digital in the pay-TV world.

Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) has announced that it will start accepting the digital currency Bitcoin sometime this summer. According to Dish, the move makes it the largest company to accept Bitcoin payments and the first pay-TV provider to do so.

Customers will be able to make one-time payments with Bitcoin on the mydish.com website. The US satellite TV provider plans to use Coinbase's Instant Exchange feature to process the transactions. Coinbase turns digital Bitcoins into US dollars.

Bitcoin works like a digital currency, with transactions encrypted and recorded on a system spread out across a distributed computing network. However, for the moment, the US The Internal Revenue Service has decided to treat Bitcoin not as currency, but rather as property. This means that subscribers who buy a Dish subscription with Bitcoin should be aware that if the rate of exchange with the US dollar gives them a discounted service, they will be on the hook with the government for capital gains.

The IRS may yet change how it classifies Bitcoin. However, the current system adds a layer of complexity to Bitcoin transactions. Dish has made it clear that customers will still be able to pay online through more traditional means, including credit card, debit card, and bank account transfer.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

mhhf1ve 6/4/2014 | 6:52:10 PM
Does Dish say how they'll accept bitcoin payments? Just wondering if they'll use a 3rd party to handle the bitcoin payment processing, so there's zero risk in accepting bitcoins, and they get to make some headlines still.... 
Ariella 6/3/2014 | 5:59:31 PM
Re: Bitcoin Could Be Funny Money @kq4ym I really don't beileve there's any danger of that. Accepting bitcoin, for many businesses, including a small store owner in NYC I intereviewed recently, is really just about opening as many options for customer payment as possible. The way most businesses do it, as I said in my previous comment, they never actually hold bitcoins themselves. There are also businesses that offer it to their employees, as in the case of Expensify. It really does make sense when dealing with people around the world who all have to bank their own currency and pay foreign exchange fees (as I've had to do myself for some of my work).  
Kruz 6/3/2014 | 5:58:03 PM
Re: Bitcoin Could Be Funny Money maybe, but also a change, and youth adopts change easier.
Ariella 6/3/2014 | 5:55:38 PM
Re: Bitcoin Could Be Funny Money If it operates like a lot of businesses that say they accept bitcoin, it doesn't ever hold the digital currency at all but receives the dollar amount immediately from a clearing agency like coinbase.
Mitch Wagner 6/3/2014 | 5:40:49 PM
Re: Bitcoin Could Be Funny Money Is Bitcoin a youth demographic, or simply geeky?
Kruz 5/30/2014 | 6:56:32 PM
Re: Bitcoin Could Be Funny Money Great to see Dish trying to appeal to a younger audience. If this goes well, other companies will follow.
Susan Fourtané 5/30/2014 | 8:41:34 AM
Re: Bitcoin Could Be Funny Money I agree, Mitch, it's a very good move. Dish doesn't lose anything and being the first in adopting something new may attract new customers who want to make use of their Bitcoins and are looking for services that accept the cryptocurrency. 

kq4ym 5/30/2014 | 8:35:45 AM
Re: Bitcoin Could Be Funny Money It does seem a risky deal for Dish, notwithstanding a bit of free initial publicity the association with Bitcoin may just cheapen the Dish brand, especially if it ultimately doesn't work out well for the parties and customers. The IRS captial gains issues certainly muddies the water, although I don't really think the IRS is going to go after Dish customers on capital gain tax issues.
Mitch Wagner 5/29/2014 | 2:28:35 PM
Re: Bitcoin Could Be Funny Money On the contrary, it's a very good move. Dish simply needsto convert Bitcoin to dollars or other another real asset the instant it's received. In other words, Dish just sells the Bitcoin right away. 

Accepting Bitcoin is the 2014 version of building a Second Life presence in 2006-7. It gets the company a nice publicity hit. If it takes off, great; if it flops, it's an inexpensive experient and the company can just shut things down.
Phil_Britt 5/29/2014 | 12:18:16 PM
Bitcoin Could Be Funny Money This may not be such a good move for Dish. Bitcoin doesn't have enough history behind it to indicate it can be viable long term; nor does it have the underlying backing to make sure it just won't blow up. Even hard or paper currencies can become worthless if mismanaged by the issuer. 
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