Customers in the US can now pay for Tesla electric cars with Bitcoin, the company's boss Elon Musk has announced on Twitter.
Bitcoin paid to Tesla will be retained as Bitcoin, Musk tweeted, and not converted to traditional currency.
Musk's announcement on Wednesday bumped up the price of the controversial currency, favoured by scammers and cybercriminals, by more than four per cent and is currently trading at around $56,400 (£41,000).
Purchasing with Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies requires a lot of electricity, releasing massive amounts of greenhouse gases – which appears to go against Tesla's environmentally-friendly electric vehicles.
You can now buy a Tesla with Bitcoin— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2021
'You can now buy a Tesla with Bitcoin,' Musk said on Twitter, adding that the option would be available outside the US later this year.
Musk said Tesla would be using 'internal and open source software' and operates Bitcoin nodes directly. Bitcoin nodes are computers or servers that are running the Bitcoin software.
Bitcoin, the world's most popular cryptocurrency, was launched back in 2009.
It hit the headlines in 2017 after soaring from less than $1,000 in January (£815 at the time) to almost $20,000 in December (£15,000 at the time) of that year.
The virtual bubble then burst in subsequent days, with bitcoin's value fluctuating wildly before sinking below $5,000 (£3,800) by October 2018.
However the last year's rise has been more steady, with investors and Wall Street finance giants wooed by dizzying growth, the opportunity for profit and asset diversification, and a safe store of value to guard against inflation.
Bitcoin passed the $60,000 (£49,000) mark for the first time on March 13, reaching a record high of nearly $62,000 (£50,000).
Musk frequently refers to Bitcoin in a positive light in his tweets. In January, the billionaire added the hashtag #bitcoin to his Twitter bio, which helped to briefly push up the price of the cryptocurrency by as much as 20 per cent, according to CNBC.
Two days later, he said on the social medial chat site Clubhouse: 'I do at this point think bitcoin is a good thing, and I am a supporter of Bitcoin.'
Musk last month criticised conventional cash, saying when it 'has negative real interest, only a fool wouldn't look elsewhere'.
Tesla said last month in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it had bought $1.5 billion (£1.16 billion) worth of Bitcoin and would soon accept it as a form of payment for cars.
Tesla now has a support page on its website explaining how customers can pay for a Tesla with Bitcoin.
The firm warns that Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency it accepts and if a customer tries to pay with another cryptocurrency, it will not receive the transaction, likely resulting in a loss of funds.
Major companies already accepting Bitcoin – like Microsoft, Wikipedia and AT&T – typically use specialist payment processors that convert the cryptocurrency into traditional currency and send the sum to the company.
Like other cryptocurrencies including Ether and Dogecoin, Bitcoin is still little used for commerce in major economies, hampered by its volatility and relatively costly and slow processing times.
Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the ride-hailing company discussed and 'quickly dismissed' the idea of investing in Bitcoin, although he said Uber could potentially accept the cryptocurrency as payment.
While Tesla rival General Motors Co said it would evaluate whether Bitcoin could be accepted as payment for its vehicles.
Earlier this month, billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates highlighted the negative impact mining Bitcoin has on the environment.
'Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind,' Gates said, speaking to the The New York Times. 'It's not a great climate thing.'
The cryptocurrency is 'mined' by high-powered computers that continuously solve computational maths puzzles, the complexity of which means the processors require huge amounts of energy.
While the machines use electricity, fossil fuel is a major category in electricity generation.
A 2018 study published in Nature found huge farms of computers used to mine Bitcoin could produce enough greenhouse gases to raise global temperatures 3.6°F (2°C) in less than three decades.
Studies have shown that the annual carbon emissions from the electricity generated to mine and process the cryptocurrency is equal to the amount emitted by whole countries, including New Zealand and Argentina.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.