Tesla’s big bet
In its annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla said that it expects “to begin accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in the near future … which we may or may not liquidate upon receipt.”
That news followed the revelation that the automaker is holding $1.5 billion in bitcoin on its balance sheet as part of a move to “invest a portion of [the company’s] cash in certain specified alternative reserve assets.” Tesla lists $19 billion in cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet as of December 31.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has lately been signaling interest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In a December 20 tweet, he said that “Bitcoin is almost as bs as fiat money,” suggesting his belief that it is perhaps less “bs” than traditional government-backed currencies.
Mastercard jumps in
This change “will allow many more merchants to accept crypto” as well as “cut out inefficiencies, letting both consumers and merchants avoid having to convert back and forth between crypto and traditional [currency] to make purchases,” Mastercard said.
Bitcoin comes to America’s oldest bank
BNY Mellon — America’s oldest bank — which dates back to Alexander Hamilton’s founding of the Bank of New York in 1784 — announced Thursday it formed a “digital assets” unit. It will begin helping clients address needs related to the growth of digital assets, including cryptocurrencies, at an unspecified date later this year.
Client demand and clearer regulation “present a tremendous opportunity for us to extend our current service offerings to this emerging field,” said Roman Regelman, Mellon’s CEO of asset servicing.
Bitcoin is becoming an “alternative asset”
“As more and more companies start accepting bitcoin, this will only lead to further increases in demand in a market which is limited in supply,” wrote Fawad Razaqzada, analyst at ThinkMarkets, in a note to clients.
“Bitcoin is becoming an alternative asset,” said Brad Bechtel, global head of FX at Jefferies. “It’s not correlated to anything else in the market.” And that makes it an attractive asset to add to a portfolio, he added.
That’s pretty bullish for the long-term bitcoin outlook, even as some, notably Bank of America, have called the crypto rally “the mother of all bubbles.”
–CNN Business’ Anneken Tappe and Chris Isidore contributed to this report.