Amid a challenging regulatory environment, Australia’s biggest telecoms operator Telstra has indicated it is considering Bitcoin as a future payment method.

Head of the company’s digital operations Monty Hamilton made the comments at a global technology conference in Texas in March, Herald Sun reports. Telstra, he said, is keen to keep in touch with consumer trends with the company having integrated PayPal for payment in 2013.

“If we see demand from customers these are things we will actively consider,” he stated, adding that “The scale of our customer base is representative of society — we see trends so much earlier.”

While Australia has taken steps to leave cryptocurrencies unsupported at state level, most recently in central bank comments stating that they “do not raise any significant concerns with respect to competition, efficiency or risk to the financial system,” issues surrounding taxation have seen domestic operators move away from Australian jurisdiction over the past year.

Hamilton meanwhile made it clear that this was not a signal that preparations for embracing Bitcoin were being made:

“Are we going to accept payments through bitcoin? No. Are we watching closely? Yes.”

He added nonetheless that Bitcoin as a phenomenon was starting to “move from a micro-niche into something more mainstream,” an admission not often heard outside the cryptocurrency industry.

His comments were followed by a post by Jeff Haden on Telstra’s business blog in which it discussed whether Bitcoin can benefit businesses. Haden’s remarks were less optimistic than Hamilton’s, reflecting overall sentiment in Australia regarding the essential importance of cryptocurrency as a consumer trend.

“…[I]f your customers are not asking you to accept bitcoins – and I’m willing to bet they are not –spending time and money establishing your own Bitcoin infrastructure is wasteful, and would be much better used improving other ways you serve your customers,” he concluded.

Telstra’s 16 million mobile customers form Australia’s most ubiquitous network, the company also having a presence in 15 international markets. A move to accept bitcoin may well influence the attitudes slowly becoming entrenched in official and business circles in the country.

“Focus on what your customers are saying, and not on the hype surrounding a payment system that is unlikely to help your business grow,” Haden added.

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