In a statement during General Motors’ fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday, CEO Mary Barra confirmed that the veteran American automaker has no plans to invest in bitcoin. Barra noted that for now, GM would be monitoring customer demand as it weighs its options about whether it would accept the cryptocurrency as a form of payment for its vehicles and services.
The bitcoin inquiry was shared by Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas, an analyst who has closely followed Tesla for years. In response to Jonas’ question, Barra remarked that “We don’t have any plans to invest in bitcoin, so full-stop there.” She did state that nothing would stop GM from investing in bitcoin in the future if the need arises. “This is something we’ll monitor, and we’ll evaluate. If there’s strong customer demand for it in the future, there’s nothing that precludes us from doing that,” she said.
Barra’s comments came just days after Silicon Valley-based electric car maker Tesla revealed that it had purchased $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin in January. In its filings with the SEC, Tesla stated that it had purchased the cryptocurrency for “more flexibility to further diversify and maximize returns on our cash.” The EV maker also noted that it expects bitcoin to give it liquidity ahead of its plans to start accepting the cryptocurrency as a form of payment in the near future.
In a way, it would be easy for Tesla to adopt bitcoin as a form of payment considering that the company uses a direct sales model, which allows customers to purchase their cars directly from the company. On the other hand, GM utilizes a traditional franchised dealership network, which means that if the legacy automaker does embrace cryptocurrency, it would have to work out a process with its dealers and their shared systems.
This does not mean that cryptocurrencies and a dealership network could not work together, however. In a statement on Tuesday, Billionaire businessman Tilman Fertitta told CNBC that his luxury car dealership, Post Oak Motor Cars, has already sold 17 vehicles to customers using bitcoin. The billionaire also remarked that his dealership has been accepting transactions in digital currency for nearly three years. “Tesla taking it is much more important than me taking it, but believe it or not, we’ve sold 17 cars — Bentleys and [Rolls-Royces] — with bitcoin,” Fertitta said.
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