By Julian Hattem - 05/29/14 11:12 AM EDT
The 14 million subscribers of DISH satellite television will soon be able to pay their monthly bills in bitcoins.
The Thursday morning announcement makes the Colorado-based television provider the largest company yet to accept the virtual currency.
The move goes a long way toward making the virtual currency more mainstream.
Bitcoins only exist online, but can be exchanged for cash or used to buy items at some retailers, including Overstock.com.
The currency has increased in popularity in recent months, as federal regulators have started to outline a framework for dealing with it. As more and more major companies start to accept bitcoin in addition to credit or debit card payments, public acceptance is likely to grow.
Still, many worry that the rapid fluctuation in bitcoins’ value can make it dangerous for investors. They also say the ability of bitcoin users to act with relative anonymity has made it a prime vehicle for drug dealers and other criminals to launder money.
DISH is partnering with Coinbase, a major bitcoin company that lets people store and spend their money.
Company co-founder Fred Ehrsam said that the development 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.”
DISH subscribers will be able to pay their bills in bitcoins starting in July. Their ability to pay through traditional methods like credit and debit cards will be unchanged.