Tesla may soon accept bitcoin payments again.
"It looks like bitcoin is shifting a lot more toward renewables and a bunch of heavy-duty coal plants that were being used...have been shut down, especially in China," said CEO Tesla Elon Musk at a Wednesday conference of The B-Word, which was hosted by the Crypto Council for Innovation. If renewable energy usage (presumably for bitcoin mining) is at or above 50%, Musk believes Tesla will accept the cryptocurrency once more.
Beijing's crypto 'crack down' has sent bitcoin miners to the US
"I want to do a little more due diligence to confirm that the percentage of renewable energy usage is most likely at or above 50% and that there is a trend toward increasing that number," added Musk during the conference, according to a CNBC report. "If so, Tesla will most likely resume accepting bitcoin." This comes on the heels of an earlier suspension of all bitcoin purchases of the all-electric automaker, in a May tweet from CEO Musk. But since this happened, Beijing has enforced heavy restrictions on cryptocurrencies, expelling miners in the nation, who have already started setting up shop in other regions of the world. New Cambridge University data suggests many of them are going to the U.S., which as of writing retains the second-place title for bitcoin miner population.
One crucial advantage of the U.S. for prospective bitcoin miners is the persistent low cost of power, which is increasingly renewable. Recently, Compass CEO Whit Gibbs said bitcoin mining in the U.S. is already powered by more than 50% renewable energy, according to the CNBC report. "Long-term, renewable energy will be the cheapest energy, but it doesn't just happen overnight," said Musk during the conference. "But as long as there is a conscious and determined, real effort by the mining community to move toward renewables, then obviously Tesla can support that." Bitcoin had surged 8%, at $32,160.16 after the announcement, with Ether up 11.6%, to $1,993.36. Meanwhile, Tesla's shares dipped 0.8%, at $655.30 in extended training, according to a Reuters report.
'I might pump, but I don't dump,' quips Musk
Notably, Musk's potential return to bitcoin for Tesla payments serves to remind us of the oft-conflicting roles in the tech billionaire's reputation, walking the line between entrepreneurial environmentalist and a man who uses clout, reputation, and economic standing as one of the richest people on Earth to strongly endorse cryptocurrencies. "Tesla's mission is accelerating the advent of sustainable energy," added Musk in the report. "We can't be the company that does that and also not do appropriate diligence on the energy usage of bitcoin." The all-electric company CEO also said he owns bitcoin, dogecoin, and ethereum, although separately from Tesla- and SpaceX-owned bitcoin.
"I might pump, but I don't dump," quipped Musk on the subject of owning crypto. "I definitely do not believe in getting the price high and selling [...] I would like to see bitcoin succeed." Whether Musk is serious about holding on to crypto (instead of playing the market for a major return-on-investment, which can cause the economy to fluctuate at high levels) remains to be seen. But with a growing torrent of non-renewable power plants and manufacturing facilities converting into bitcoin mining centers, likely, every major automaker will inevitably begin to accept common cryptocurrencies.
This was a developing story and was regularly updated as new information became available.