Tesla’s Musk halts use of bitcoin for car purchases
Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) will no longer accept bitcoin for car purchases, Chief Executive Elon Musk said, citing long-brewing environmental concerns for a swift reversal in the company’s position on the cryptocurrency.
New York: Tesla Inc will no longer accept bitcoin for car purchases, Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Wednesday, citing long-brewing environmental concerns for a swift reversal in the company’s position on the cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin fell more than 10% after Musk tweeted his decision to suspend its use, less than two months after Tesla began accepting the world’s biggest digital currency for payment. Other cryptocurrencies, including ethereum, also fell before regaining some ground in Asia trade.
The use of bitcoin to buy Tesla's electric vehicles had highlighted a dichotomy between Musk's reputation as an environmentalist and the use of his popularity and stature as one of the world's richest people to back cryptocurrencies.
Some Tesla investors, along with environmentalists, have been increasingly critical about the way bitcoin is "mined" using vast amounts of electricity generated with fossil fuels.
Musk said on Wednesday he backed that concern, especially the use of "coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel."
Tesla revealed in February it had bought $1.5 billion of bitcoin, before accepting it as payment for cars in March, driving a roughly 20% surge in the cryptocurrency.
Tesla would retain its bitcoin holdings with the plan to use the cryptocurrency as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy sources, Musk said.
Bitcoin is created when high-powered computers compete against other machines to solve complex mathematical puzzles, an energy-intensive process that currently often relies on electricity generated with fossil fuels, particularly coal.
At current rates, such bitcoin “mining” devours about the same amount of energy annually as the Netherlands did in 2019, the latest available data from the University of Cambridge and the International Energy Agency shows.
Analysts said Musk's about-face was inevitable.
"The environmental impact from mining bitcoins was one of the biggest risks for the entire crypto market," said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at currency trading firm OANDA.
Meltem Demirors, chief strategy officer at digital asset manager CoinShares Group, said Tesla was unlikely to have sold many, if any, cars using bitcoin and the backflip generated positive publicity while simplifying payment processes.
"Elon was getting a lot of questions and criticisms and this statement allows him to appease critics while still keeping bitcoin on his balance sheet," Demirors said.
Mark Humphery-Jenner, an associate professor of finance at the University of New South Wales, said he was more concerned about Tesla management's "very hasty and precipitous" decision-making.
Musk did not say in his Twitter comments whether any vehicles had been purchased with bitcoin and Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.(Reuters)