There’s never a dull day when it comes to cryptocurrency speculation and maverick billionaires. Elon Musk, the man who can control the markets with a single raunchy meme, has once again proven his influence in the world of cryptocurrency by saving Bitcoin from its recent crash – a crash which he arguably helped cause.
Just a couple of months after announcing that Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin, Musk now appears to have reversed course. Speaking at the virtual B Word conference on Wednesday, he said the electric vehicle company would “most likely” start accepting the cryptocurrency as payment once again – causing prices to surge back above the critical $30,000/BTC rate.
“I wanted a little bit more due diligence to confirm that the percentage of renewable energy usage is most likely at or above 50 percent, and that there is a trend towards increasing that number,” the memelord magnate said at the conference. “[If] so Tesla would resume accepting Bitcoin.”
“Most likely the answer is that Tesla would resume accepting Bitcoin,” he confirmed.
Musk established his cryptocurrency credentials back in February, when it officially emerged that Tesla had bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin, no doubt making a few Twitter sleuths feel vindicated in the process. Along with the purchase, the company announced that they would begin accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, sending the value of the currency to a record high and prompting a worldwide graphics card shortage in the process.
But the move was short lived, as criticisms over the phenomenal environmental impact of the payment method prompted Musk to hit pause on the policy.
“Tesla has suspended vehicle purchases using Bitcoin,” he said in a statement tweeted on May 12. “Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at great cost to the environment.”
That announcement saw an immediate double-digit percentage drop in Bitcoin value – and the hits just kept on coming for investors. The cryptocurrency price fell once again a few weeks later when Musk tweeted a Linkin Park meme (yes, you read that right), and was hit by crackdowns in China not long after that. Then in July, amid a massive pandemic-related stock market dive, cryptocurrencies suddenly crashed again. By July 20, Bitcoin’s falling fortunes had wiped out any gains from Tesla’s original purchase, and “#cryptocrash” was trending on social media.
But the doom and gloom of June had an unexpected upside. By clamping down on cryptocurrency, Beijing’s new restrictions inadvertently slashed the worldwide energy consumption of mining by a massive amount. What’s more, cryptocurrency experts reckon the move is likely to mean an uptick in renewable energy use for Bitcoin and its brethren.
“Tesla’s mission is accelerating the advent of sustainable energy,” he said. “We can’t be the company that does that and also not do appropriate diligence on the energy usage of bitcoin.”