Dish Network becomes the largest company to accept Bitcoin

Taking a chance--or perhaps seizing an opportunity--on a growing, popular but somewhat unstable digital currency, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) announced that it will begin accepting Bitcoin from customers for pay-TV services beginning in the third quarter.

Subscribers will be able to use Bitcoin as an option--alongside the usual debit cards, credit cards, checks, etc.--to make one-time bill payments.

To process these payments, Dish has selected Coinbase, a VC-funded start-up that claims 31,000 merchant partners, a customer reach of "1.3 million consumer wallets," and a client base that includes Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Bing, and Bloomberg, among others.

"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 VP and chief operating officer, in a statement. "Bitcoin is becoming a preferred way for some people to transact and we want to accommodate those individuals."

Dish's selection of Bitcoin as its digital coin of the realm comes less than three months after the crash of Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox destabilized the currency. It also comes amid skepticism from the federal government that the currency will ever be used for more than nefarious transactions.

Bitcoin, however, has quickly recovered from its February tumult and has lately received quite a bit of high-profile backing. This includes commentary in the Washington Post last week from tech pioneer and investor Marc Andreeson, who said the currency will be looked upon as being as influential as the Internet in 20 years.

For more:
- see this press release
- read this Multichannel News story
- read this Bloomberg story

Related links:
Bitcoin's limited anonymity means it'll mainly be for donations to 'disreputable groups,' says FBI
FreedomPop unveils 'Privacy Phone' to focus on security for voice, texting
Encryption gets user friendly
Dish Network adds Netflix to subscriber bonus package
Verizon's McAdam: We're not talking to Dish about any deals