AT&T, the American telecom and media conglomerate, has announced in a press release that the company would now offer users the option to pay to their bill in bitcoin. The company partnered up with BitPay, a crypto payment processing company, to roll out the service.
AT&T after the announcement has become the first company in the telecommunication space to offer bill payments through cryptocurrency to its users. The customers can choose BitPay as a payment option when they log into the AT&T website or my AT&T app. In the press release, Vice President of AT&T’s Communication Finance Business Operations division, Kevin McDorman, 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.
BitPay is a US-based payment processing company that allows businesses to charge cryptocurrencies as payment. BitPay charges less processing fee than most of the credit card providers in the US. The company first started as a payment processing company for bitcoin; however, it has now expanded and has added more cryptocurrencies. The BitPay app allows businesses to receive their payments in crypto, which BitPay then converts into the US dollar and pays directly to the businesses.
The company processes payments for around 20,000 businesses in the United States and is considered one of the largest crypto payment processing companies in the world. The deal with AT&T is one of the biggest deals the company has ever made since it was founded in 2011. The company has some competition with Coinbase and CoinBank; however, being the early adopter, BitPay is a well-established brand.
AT&T’s Blockchain Platform
AT&T, at the end of 2018, announced that the company had created a suite of blockchain compatible with the current offerings of IBM and Microsoft Azure. The platform is targeted at enterprise customers who can now digitize and automate their business process using AT&T’s blockchain. The blockchain, intended as a supply chain solution, is aimed at vertically integrated industries like manufacturing, healthcare and retail. AT&T being a telecommunication company understands the importance of information sharing which is why the company’s blockchain solution aims at creating an ecosystem across parties for a highly secure way of sharing information. The press release states:
The goal? To help our customers solve their complex business problems. Today, businesses are constantly looking to reduce costs, risk and simplify business processes. Blockchain creates a shared ecosystem across parties to exchange information in a way that is permissioned and highly secure.
AT&T has integrated its IoT solutions for automation and its monitoring toolbox with the new blockchain technology. The team at AT&T has partnered up with IBM and Microsoft’s Azure to manage their blockchains. IBM’s blockchain platform currently supports numerous industry use cases such as supply chain, procurement and logistics. IBM’s blockchain is one of the most advanced blockchain technologies in the world. Paired with IBM’s cloud and other services, IBM blockchain technologies creates a very secure network for asset management. Microsoft’s Azure blockchain technology integrates with AT&T’s IoT platform to make complex supply chains secure and transparent.
AT&T’s Blockchain Patent
In addition to their blockchain solution for complex supply chains, AT&T in December filed a patent for a blockchain based social media mapping system. According to the application filed by AT&T, the blockchain powered system would allow AT&T to record micro transactions made by its subscribers. This would enable AT&T to monitor current trends at a particular time and place, and also track user behavior which, according to the document filed, “may have enormous value in e-commerce, marketing and targeted advertising”. The patent further states:
The social media history map platforms described herein may take advantage of the immutable and permanent nature of blockchain records to store, and provide access to, data representing online transactions that occur on multiple social media applications.
The application, however, did explain that the content creators would still keep ownership for any content posted by them yet the AT&T would reserve viewership rights of things such as followers of the account owner. The document further explained:
“However, instead of passing ownership of blocks or data between users, a social media account owner maintains primary ownership of his or her online transaction data. What passes from the social media account owner to other users of the social media history map service, such as followers of the social media account owner, is a notion of elevated visibility rights”.