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Cash, credit or crypto? Tesla can now be bought for bitcoin, Musk says

Tesla chief Elon Musk has said customers can now buy the firm’s electric vehicles with bitcoin.

The pay by bitcoin system will only be available in the US for now, but the billionaire said the payment method will be expanded to other countries later this year.

“You can now buy a Tesla with bitcoin,” Musk simply announced on Twitter, just a month after the company bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin sending the digicurrency soaring in price to a record high of nearly $62,000.

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Bitcoin, the world’s biggest digital currency, rose more than 4% after Musk’s tweet and was last trading at $56,429.   

But Musk added that bitcoin paid to Tesla would not be converted into traditional currency, though he gave few other details on how the bitcoin payments would be processed. The company was using “internal and open source software”, he said.    

The announcement comes after Tesla recently reported that it had made an annual profit for the first time after years of losses.

SPECIALIST PROCESSORS

Most mainstream companies such as AT&T Inc and Microsoft Corp that allow customers to pay with bitcoin typically use specialist payment processors that convert the cryptocurrency into, for example, dollars and send the sum to the company. 

Like other cryptocurrencies, bitcoin is still little used for commerce in major economies, due to its volatility and relatively costly and slow processing times. 

Musk, who regularly posts comments on Twitter about cryptocurrencies, last month criticised conventional cash, saying when it “has negative real interest, only a fool wouldn’t look elsewhere”.

INVESTMENT PORTFOLIOS

Following Tesla’s investment in bitcoin, companies including Mastercard Inc and Bank of New York Mellon Corp have embraced the emerging asset, sparking predictions that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will become a regular part of investment portfolios.

Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the ride-hailing company discussed and “quickly dismissed” the idea of investing in bitcoin. However, he said Uber could potentially accept the cryptocurrency as payment.

General Motors Co said it would evaluate whether bitcoin could be accepted as payment for its vehicles.

  • Reporting by Reuters

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Sean OMeara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.

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