This past week has been action-packed for those following bitcoin.
But instead of analysts and investors prognosticating about bitcoin’s potential, there has been action by Fortune 500 companies.
And actions do indeed speak louder than words. The past seven days have brought bitcoin actions from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Dish (NASDAQ: DISH) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN).
While the company’s developer conference, WWDC, was in progress, others at Apple were busy updating their policies to permit iOS apps that transmit virtual currencies. It is expected this change is to allow bitcoin wallets on iPhones.
Prior to that announcement, Apple had been rejecting bitcoin wallets from companies like Blockchain.info, Coinbase and Gliph.
Apple’s ban was a barrier to adoption for bitcoin. Bitcoin is a great technology that can send money between two people anywhere in the world instantly, but iPhones couldn’t be used to pay with bitcoins. That was a non-starter for many; it was especially damaging since many company executives use iPhones.
Apple’s ban also enraged bitcoin fans, who claimed the move was antithetical to Apple’s image of being innovative and anti-establishment. There was even a campaign for bitcoiners to smash working iPhones and to switch to Android.
It appears Apple is reversing its stance before this migration becomes a mass exodus. This means iPhone users will expand the bitcoin economy. Before Blockchain.info’s app was banned, it had already been downloaded 120,000 times. This also might mean that Apple sees a bright future for digital currencies.
Dish announced it will accept bitcoin payments in the third quarter of this year. Following Overstock’s successful acceptance in January, Dish is now the largest company to accept bitcoin.
Dish also benefited by getting national press, getting the lucrative bitcoin demographic thinking about the Dish brand, helping HR recruit and retain bright developers and providing customers more options to pay their bills.
Dish Network’s announcement benefits bitcoin by supporting its legitimacy. Dish has a $27 billion market cap, 14 million subscribers and 35,000 employees. Its acceptance paves the way for smaller companies to accept bitcoin, and it invites larger companies to steal the spotlight.
The company made headlines in April by declaring it has no plans to accept bitcoin for payment. Fast forward four short weeks, however, and Amazon was awarded a patent that specifically mentions bitcoin.
The patent is interesting because, unlike Overstock and Dish’s acceptance of bitcoin, it enables a new revenue stream stemming from bitcoin. The patent centers around the idea of accepting payment for services without the services being tied to an account.
This could mean, for example, that if someone or some program wants to use a one ghz processor for two hours, that person or program pays Amazon and gets their computing time without having to go through the hassle of setting up an account.
This patent illustrates how bitcoin enables new business models and new revenue streams, particularly for technology companies. It will get other tech entrepreneurs thinking about how bitcoin can benefit their companies’ bottom lines — and that is a good signal for a 2014 bitcoin price surge.