Dish Network to Accept Bitcoin Payments

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Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen

The satellite TV giant, led by chairman Charlie Ergen and CEO Joe Clayton, will start allowing subscribers to use the controversial virtual currency for one-time payments online.

Satellite TV giant Dish Network said on Thursday that it would start accepting bitcoin payments in the third quarter.

The company, led by chairman Charlie Ergen and CEO Joe Clayton, said it would become the biggest company to date to accept the controversial virtual currency. It said it would use Coinbase as processor for the payments, which will initially focus on one-time payments made on

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"We always want to deliver choice and convenience for our customers, and that includes the method they use to pay their bills," said Dish COO Bernie Han. "Bitcoin is becoming a preferred way for some people to transact and we want to accommodate those individuals."

Dish emphasized, though, that it would also continue to accept online payments via credit and debit cards or bank accounts.

Silicon Valley and Wall Street have been discussing the outlook for bitcoin amid debate about its volatility, fraud risks, including concern that criminals can use bitcoin for money laundering, and legal probes. Amid supporters have been veteran digital media investor Marc Andreessen and the Winklevoss twins who won a $65 million settlement in litigation that claimed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had stolen their idea for a social network.

"We're excited to support Dish and their current and new subscribers for their bitcoin transactions," said Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam. "This is a large step forward in the growing momentum of customers paying companies in bitcoin for things we do every day, like watching premium TV."

Twitter: @georgszalai