That “Bitcoin accepted here” sticker is back in vogue. AT&T is the latest corporation to join the list of service providers that accept Bitcoin. Through a partnership with BitPay, AT&T will now accept Bitcoin for online bill payments. Customers can now choose BitPay as their payment option both online and through the AT&T app. The news, as good as it might be in terms of adoption, does come with a few caveats that Bitcoin users should be aware of.
AT&T Bitcoin Payments Can Boost Price?
Since AT&T is enabling these payments for its customers in the US, Bitcoin users elsewhere might be thinking about how this announcement might give another boost to Bitcoin prices. The recent Bitcoin bull run ground to a halt over the last few days, and this news can give it some oxygen. Nevertheless, the beneficiary of this announcement is more likely to be AT&T than Bitcoin. It is the perfect time to make the announcement and ride the “Bitcoin accepted here” sticker bandwagon.
How About the Benefits for AT&T Customers?
The next question then is will AT&T customers benefit? At a glance, it seems like they will. Once you think about the implications of paying for your phone bill with Bitcoin, you might not see the benefit anymore. Purchasing internet services or paying for a phone bill is radically different than buying pizza or getting a Trezor wallet. AT&T holds critical information about the person making the payment and all the information it holds is centralized, which makes it vulnerable.
People who pay their AT&T bill with Bitcoin will run the risk of:
- Removing the thin veil of pseudonimity they hold by tying a Bitcoin address to the name and other data on the phone bill.
- Exposing themselves to potential hackers that might get hold of the data if AT&T is compromised.
- Opening themselves up to further scrutiny – including through blockchain forensics – if by any chance, the government or any other actor can subpoena their records.
Then Who Benefits Really?
Therefore, the wiser Bitcoin holders will refrain from paying their AT&T bill with Bitcoin. This means that AT&T might get a smaller Bitcoin revenue than expected, allowing them to take advantage of the free advertisement that the “Bitcoin accepted here” sticker grants them. That might help the company’s bottom line at the end of the quarter, so investors might benefit from the move as well, even if the benefit is only marginal.