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Last Thursday, Dish Network announced that it would accept payment in Bitcoin, the ‘crypto-currency’ established as open-source software in 2009. Bitcoins are produced as rewards for users who offer their computer processing power to process and record payjments into a public ledger, this¬†‘mining’ work usually handled on servers dedicated to this purpose.¬†Bitcoins are not controlled by any central bank of government authority, which has led federal authorities to call it a decentralized virtual currency. Bitcoins can be exchanged for goods, services, and government fiat currency.

The crypto-currency, launched in 2009, has become popular in some quarters because of widespread distrust of government-issued currencies. U.S. Government spending levels, and the Federal Reserve Board’s practice of “quantitative easing”- buying its own securities when they fail to sell on the open market, have fed investor fears of debasement of the dollar, and consequent price inflation. With governments often proving unreliable in fiscal matters, alternative media of exchange become increasingly appealing.

Several established firms already accept Bitcoin. They include, a discount merchandise reseller; Virgin Galactic, a commercial airline, TigerDirect, an online electronics retailer; and Zynga, a developer of social media games such as Farmville, YoVille, and Bubble Safari. So, far, though, Dish Network is the largest firm to accept Bitcoin.

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