Tech

Tesla will ‘very likely’ accept bitcoin payments again

Elon Musk was cautious but optimistic that his company should once again accept bitcoin as a payment currency. They are nevertheless waiting for cleaner alternatives to be developed to mine this cryptocurrency, which currently requires a very polluting process.

Telsa goes ” very probably “Accept again that its customers pay in bitcoins, announced Elon Musk during a virtual conference called B Conference, July 21, 2021, which can be found on YouTube. ” I would, however, still ask for diligent efforts “, He said about the need to turn to less polluting solutions for bitcoin mining.

The billionaire, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, did not give a precise time indicator, knowing that the subject is as sensitive as it is complex. This announcement, however, allowed the price of bitcoin to rise slightly, above $ 32,000 on July 22, even if the virtual currency does not rise higher yet.

Elon Musk has been passionate about cryptocurrency for years; it multiplies the interventions and the tweets in favor of these virtual currencies whose market price tends to be quite volatile (it can vary quickly). However, his stance intensified in 2021, when Telsa, his electric vehicle company, first invested in bitcoin itself (for the equivalent of $ 1.5 billion in January), then announced in March that it now allows payments in this cryptocurrency.

YouTube / Marques Brownlee

Bitcoin has a huge environmental cost

Then, a twist: Musk and Tesla suddenly seemed to discover, in mid-May 2021, that bitcoin mining had a huge environmental cost, and that it didn’t mix well with corporate image. clean From the automaker.

In one short press release, Elon Musk said: ” Tesla has suspended the possibility of buying vehicles with bitcoins. We have concerns about the rapid increase in fossil fuels that are used to mine bitcoins and issue transactions, partly coal, which is the worst of the emissions.

In 2021, the amount of electricity consumed by bitcoin mining activities exploded, at the same time as virtual currency was gaining momentum in the political and media landscape.

Electricity consumption due to bitcoin skyrocketed in 2021 // Source: cbeci

You just have to look at the research trend on Google Trends to see how much popularity bitcoin has gained in early 2021 – especially thanks to Elon Musk’s speeches, the greater media coverage of cryptocurrencies in general, and his interest. more and more companies, as well as China’s strong positions on the subject.

Google trends related to bitcoin over the past 5 years // Source: Google Trends

It is undeniable that the manufacture (by “mining”) of bitcoin is polluting. To sum it up quickly, it requires very complex (even, unnecessarily complex) calculations and very powerful computers that need to run a lot of computer servers. However, all this works thanks to electricity, and this energy is still mainly produced by coal-fired power stations. However, some alternatives exist: El Salvador (which recently made bitcoin legal tender) is interested, for example, in the energy of volcanoes to mine bitcoin.

A sign of hope? We note that the consumption of electricity seems to fall since the summer of 2021 (in particular because of the fall in the price, which encourages less investment, and the severe measures of China), which is a positive indicator on which Elon Musk could rest to make up his mind.

The energy used to mine bitcoin since January 2021 // Source: Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index

The position he gave on July 21, however, is not really new. A month earlier, Musk was already saying: “ When we have confirmation that a satisfactory portion (around 50%) of clean energy is used for mining, with prospects for improvement, Tesla will re-authorize payment in bitcoins.

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