Binance’s loss of 7,000 Bitcoin (BTC), Bitfinex and Tether’s trouble in court, and the continual disapproval of BTC exchange-traded funds (ETFs) aside, the crypto news cycle has been widely positive. This trend continued on Thursday, with a multibillion-dollar telecommunications giant revealing that it would be taking its first foray into cryptocurrency, shocking investors this ecosystem over.
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AT&T Partners With BitPay
Announced Thursday, AT&T, a Texas-based American technology giant valued at $234 billion, will be accepting Bitcoin payments for its services through the Atlanta-headquartered BitPay. Per a press release, AT&T is now the first “major U.S. mobile carrier” to provide its millions of customers with the ability to purchase services for cryptocurrency. Speaking on the matter, Kevin McDorman, vice president of AT&T Communications’ Finance Business Operations unit drawled:
“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.”
As this news broke, many in the crypto community saw this as validation of the return of the Bitcoin bull. Because why would a massive company accept an asset that is “dying” is “already dead”, right?
This is notable, as it comes as Bitcoin has remained to a leading payment rail on the global stage, despite what you hear in harrowing news reports. Researcher Kevin Rooke notes that over the past week, Bitcoin has seen $6.3 billion worth of value transferred on average each day. This is still shy of Visa’s and Mastercard’s volumes, but impressive nonetheless.
Bitcoin is settling over $6 billion of transactions each day now.
How does BTC volume compare to America's top payment networks? pic.twitter.com/NX5oeJUaQY
— Kevin Rooke (@kerooke) May 23, 2019
Swelling Crypto Adoption
This isn’t the first bout of major adoption that the crypto space has seen. Tor, the de-facto go-to privacy- and anonymity-centric browser provider, unveiled a donation jar that accepts cryptocurrencies earlier this year. Tor’s website now accepts payments in nine leading cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Stellar Lumens, Monero, ZCash, and Augur.
Weeks prior to this, Avnet, one of the world’s most prominent electronic components distributor, revealed it had integrated a payment portal from the Atlanta-based BitPay. Avnet’s team sees cryptocurrencies as a step above traditional rails, as a company release argued that such assets can reduce the “time, cost and complexities of bringing products to market.”
And most recently, Flexa, a little-known startup looking to make “cryptocurrency spendable everywhere”, will be making Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Gemini’s in-house stablecoin available to spend in 30,476 retail outlets. Chains accepted the aforementioned digital assets include Crate & Barrel, GameStop, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, and arguably most importantly, the Amazon-owned Whole Foods.
Related Reading:Big Day for Bitcoin Acceptance: Crypto Welcomed at Multi-Billion-Dollar Pair of Retailers
This may be just the tip of the iceberg though. As NewsBTC has reported previously, Square, the fintech company headed by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, is looking to make BTC spendable as the Internet’s currency in more places. He specifically wants to integrate the Lightning Network into Square’s Cash App, which already sells Bitcoin at a breakneck pace.
Is This Good Or Bad For Bitcoin?
While the aforementioned news stories broke at different times, the responses shared a similar theme: Is Bitcoin really gaining traction/adoption if the BTC received by vendors is being sold by Bitpay?
As Bryant Eisenbach kindly points out, this isn’t exactly adoption, as AT&T likely did this due to a growing demand for cryptocurrency-related services from its clientele, not because the firm truly believes in this innovation. Or, this might just be an elaborate PR play to get some good crypto-centric press as the bull run seemingly nears.
AT&T just announced that you can now use BitPay for bill payments. Cool!
They're not holding Bitcoin though. It's getting sold back to fiat.
It's basically them saying "Enough of our customers own cryptocurrency that we should probably accept Bitcoin".
So, adoption? ?♂️ https://t.co/A23LP8JDbL
— Bryant Eisenbach (@fubuloubu) May 23, 2019
Crypto influencer Omar Bham echoed this slightly pessimistic sentiment. He wrote that real adoption will take the form of businesses, whether big or small, corporate or grassroots, accept “REAL crypto”, not selling Bitcoin or any other digital asset they receive for cold, hard fiat immediately. Some have, however, taken this news with a bit more of a positive spin.
Popular commentator and researcher Willy Woo is the best example of an optimist in this somewhat sardonic environment. Woo recently noted that the AT&T development and announcements of a similar caliber come at a perfect time, with crypto’s next bull market being seemingly right on the horizon.
For every person who pays a few bucks with BTC, which produces sell pressure on the market, thousands more will see it and consider buying a few thousand dollars of BTC as investment.
$5 of sell pressure meets $1000s of dollars of buy pressure. Timed for the bull market no less https://t.co/WllUGZ6rnD
— Willy Woo (@woonomic) May 23, 2019
He explained that whenever common Joes and Jills use Bitpay to pay their AT&T bill or purchase an item or service through other retailers, which is technically a negative selling pressure on BTC spot, “thousands more will see it and consider buying a few thousands of BTC as an investment.”
In other words, this system will likely not hamper the growth of Bitcoin’s value. Instead, it should actually be a positive growth catalyst, as lower prices may entice more investment in the space, especially as digital assets’ value proposition continues to grow each and every day. As Woo concludes:
“Everyone keeps debating why accept it as a currency. TLDR; “who cares, it’s the marketing exposure it generates.” It adds to the Bitcoin SoV borg effect.”
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