AT&T customers can now pay bills with crypto. Any takers?
Crypto payments are in. All we need now is people actually paying with crypto.
AT&T now lets customers pay bills with cryptocurrency, courtesy of BitPay.
"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," explained Kevin McDorman, vice president, AT&T communications finance business operations.
One way of looking at it is that AT&T accepting crypto is a tribute to the growing mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrency, and another step on the road to imminent mass adoption. On the other hand, when you look at how BitPay actually works it could be interpreted as a sign of how much further cryptocurrency has to go yet.
This is because the thing about BitPay is that for all practical purposes it's a really, really good payment option for merchants.
The merchant doesn't actually have to touch cryptocurrency at all. They can still get the payment converted to fiat and deposited into their bank account as usual, rates are locked in at the point of sale to mitigate cryptocurrency volatility, and there's no risk of chargeback fraud like you get with credit cards. The entire thing is done with a 1% per transaction fee, in contrast to the 3% or so typically taken on credit card transactions. You don't have extra costs for international transactions, you won't get gouged by international currency conversion costs, and payments from all over the world can be done in minutes rather than days.
And as the state of Ohio noted when it started accepting cryptocurrency for tax payments via BitPay, blockchain comes with a few extra bonuses such as more transparency of payments and easier recording of transactions.
As long as there's not too much trouble involved with implementing it, accepting cryptocurrency payments is an objectively sweet deal for merchants, especially when they have a global customer base. But despite everything, cryptocurrency payments are still a fringe thing, most likely because very few people actually use cryptocurrency to make payments.
And this stands to reason. It's easy to see the advantage of cryptocurrency for merchants in this case. Maybe the problem is that it doesn't offer enough for payers yet?
Disclosure: The author holds BTC, BNB, ATOM, IOTA at the time of writing.