AT&T Becomes First Telecom Operator to Accept Bitcoin
Telecom powerhouse AT&T has tied up with crypto payment processor BitPay to allow customers to use cryptocurrency to pay their bills, as per a public announcement, 23 May, 2019. This a major step to adoption as it marks the first instance of a major American company tying up with BitPay.
Crypto Enters Voice and Data Market
The partnership between AT&T and BitPay marks a colossal victory for cryptocurrency adoption. When major companies start looking at cryptocurrency adoption, it shows their belief in the legitimacy of crypto-based payment protocols.
More than the belief held by companies, the real victory is the ability for customers to pay their voice and data bills with cryptocurrency. The most real sign of adoption is the ability to use crypto to pay for basic goods and services; with the introduction of the Flexa app and now AT&T accepting crypto via BitPay, the dream of being able to use crypto for day to day needs is edging closer.
Customers will be able to choose BitPay as a payment option when they log on to the myAT&T app. BitPay accepts Bitcoin and almost immediately converts it to a fiat currency. While this isn’t ideal for people advocating for the use of cryptocurrencies, it’s a major breakthrough. Moreover, companies cannot be expected to hold a hyper-volatile asset that has the potential to put a major drag on their revenue.
What This Means for Bitcoin
The real obstacle that arises out of this entire ordeal is whether customers will actually choose to use Bitcoin to pay their telecom bill. While other communities such as Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash believe their networks should be leveraged for day to day micropayments, a large portion of the Bitcoin community including Blockstream CSO Samson Mow who often speaks of the benefits of credit cards over Bitcoin, do not see it as a payment remittance protocol. Micropayments on Bitcoin got too expensive and clogged the network, which is why Lightning Network was introduced – to efficient transact small amounts within seconds or minutes.
Perhaps this can work out for Bitcoin when BitPay and other processors start to accept payments over the Lightning Network. Until then, it is unlikely this will make a huge impact on AT&T or Bitcoin usage, but other altcoins accepted by BitPay may benefit greatly from this.