Overstock was able to make headlines a few months ago as the first major retailer to accept Bitcoin as a payment method, and now DISH is getting in on the action as well. DISH is nearly seventy-five times as large as Overstock, so this is a much bigger deal than acceptance at an online retailer. The DISH Network also has more than 14 million subscribers, so this could be an opportunity to spread the Bitcoin gospel to their customers. The company has partnered with Coinbase, which means they could also take advantage of the Bitcoin company’s new program where the fees saved by switching to Bitcoin are shared with the customers. DISH is currently the largest retailer to accept Bitcoin.
An Interesting Match
One of the main things that people point out when it comes to DISH’s acceptance of Bitcoin is that this isn’t necessarily a company that fits in with the normal Bitcoin merchant base. For one, it’s rather likely that a large number of Bitcoin users are also the so-called “cord cutters” who have been living without any kind of cable or satellite subscription for their televisions for quite some time. This could be a move to bring that market back into their business model, although there are also a few problems when it comes to using Bitcoin for any kind of subscription service.
Since each Bitcoin transaction needs to be sent by the user rather than the business or merchant, it will be impossible to use automatic billing for now. It will definitely be possible for this kind of functionality to be built into a service such as Coinbase in the future, but Bitcoin users are stuck with manual payments for now. The online Bitcoin wallet is already working on a similar function called “pull”, and it’s possible that DISH could persuade Coinbase to streamline the development process on this new feature.
The Little Guys
While DISH is a large company, the reality is that they aren’t the number one business in their industry. DirecTV has nearly double the number of subscribers as DISH, so we’re definitely looking at another situation where the little guy in an industry is trying to make a name for himself. This was the same situation we saw with Overstock, which is a company that isn’t exactly at the top of the totem pole when it comes to online shopping. More companies are now viewing Bitcoin as a tool that can help them compete against the big boys in their respective industries, and it actually makes sense in more ways than one.
For one, accepting Bitcoin provides free marketing for a company in the form of media reports about the new payment option. All publicity should be viewed positively, especially when it comes with basically no added cost. It’s not clear as to whether or not DISH’s customers were clamoring to be able to pay their monthly bill with Bitcoin, but the company was definitely able to enjoy a few days in the spotlight thanks to their bold move.
This second point is not as important as the first, but it’s also interesting to point out the fact that the Bitcoin community tends to support businesses that accept Bitcoin. Accepting Bitcoin opens up a new, loyal customer base to DISH, and there will probably be at least a few individuals who make the switch over to DISH just because they can pay with Bitcoin. What would be more interesting in the future is if companies such as DISH decided to pass their Bitcoin savings onto the customers.
Looking Towards the Future
At the end of the day, this move from DISH could be a way for the company to prepare for the future. The company’s CEO has stated that “younger folks are not going to pay $100 a month for their content” and “they’re going to watch it on their smartphone or tablet”, so it makes sense to view Bitcoin as a potential play for future content distribution schemes. It seems that DISH understands how the younger generation likes to enjoy their content, so perhaps Bitcoin could be a catalyst to make those kinds of plans possible in the future.