On Thursday, telecoms giant AT&T published a press release announcing that it would be providing payment support for cryptocurrencies, thereby expanding payment options for its customers. The new feature was brought to life thanks to the company’s partnership with BitPay, a platform which is used by thousands to convert cryptocurrencies into fiat currencies.
The release didn’t state how it would work but we can speculate on what’s going on here. It’s expected that Bitpay gets the tokens from users. From there, the conversion service sells the tokens and converts them to fiat for AT&T. That’s one way to go about it. AT&T can also request to have their payments deposited in crypto. This is why Morgan Creek Capital partner Anthony Pompliano, was of the opinion that the mobile carrier could be looking to accumulate Bitcoin.
AT&T just announced that they will now accept Bitcoin for bill payments.
There are only 21 million.
Everyone is trying to accumulate Bitcoin 🔥
— Pomp 🌪 (@APompliano) May 23, 2019
Speaking on the partnership, Kevin McDorman, Vice President of AT&T Communications Finance Business Operations, said, “We’re always looking for ways to improve and expand our services. We have customers who use cryptocurrency, and we are happy we can offer them a way to pay their bills with the method they prefer.”
The announcement is one that will undoubtedly send a lot of excitement across crypto enthusiasts. Internet and mobile phone bills are significant expenses on an average American’s monthly balance sheet, and the ability to make these payments in cryptocurrency will undoubtedly make things easier and much faster.
However, when it comes to the Internet and mobile connectivity, no brand seems to come close to AT&T. The company covers over 90 percent of Americans, with its 4G LTE network being accessed by over 400 million people across the U.S. and Mexico. Essentially, this means crypto payment options are now available to 99 percent of American mobile phone users. If there were ever good news for crypto adoption, it would be this.
However, it is also worth pointing out that this is merely an option. Essentially, the option to pay with cryptocurrencies is just one out of the numerous payment options available on AT&T. Still, as far as getting crypto into the hands of consumers is concerned, this is a noble effort.
True adoption will come when people get to understand what cryptocurrencies are and how they can be of immense value, which, as this report suggests, isn’t particularly the case at the moment.
The report in question describes the problem of obscurity. A lot of people have misconceptions about cryptocurrencies, and even some who know about it just feel that it is to complex. In part, the report’s author states,
“It’s clear that mainstream acceptance is limited by a lack of education on cryptocurrencies through conventional channels. Equally, this could be due to a lack of motivation from ordinary people to self-teach. Either way, the outcome is the same, and reaching the masses remains an onerous task.”
Milestones for crypto adoption so far
Despite the lack of regulatory clarity surrounding the industry, various large brands and companies have seen the light and are making the move to crypto.
Facebook has been rumored to be developing a stablecoin to help facilitate payments across its suite of apps for months now, with multiple reports providing updates as regards the company’s progress.
The Wall Street Journal reported this month that the social media giant is pitching its stablecoin idea to companies like VISA and MasterCard, as it is looking to partner with payment platforms to help make for seamless transactions. Starbucks also made the jump to cryptocurrency, partnering with the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) to launch Bakkt, a blockchain and cryptocurrency platform. Its considerable equity in the platform has led many to speculate that it could be accepting Bitcoin as a means of payment in the future.
Cryptocurrencies have also been able to invade the e-commerce space, thanks to adoption by names such as Overstock and Rakuten.
Overstock was one of the first large companies to accept crypto, launching a Bitcoin payment option for its customers as far back as 2014. Less than a day later, this decision paid off some huge dividends.