Billionaire businessman Tilman Fertitta told CNBC on Tuesday that his luxury car dealership has sold more than a dozen vehicles for Bitcoin since it began transactions in digital currency almost three years ago.
Fertitta’s comments on “Power Lunch” came a day after Tesla announced plans to accept Bitcoin as a means of payment for its products. The electric vehicle maker also said it bought $ 1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin with cash on its balance sheet.
“Tesla takes it a lot more than I do, but believe it or not, we’ve sold 17 cars – Bentleys and [Rolls-Royces] – with Bitcoin, “said Fertitta, who also leads a huge hospitality empire as chairman and CEO of Landry’s Inc., based in Houston.
According to The Houston Chronicle, Fertitta’s Post Oak Motor Cars first accepted Bitcoin in 2018. He told CNBC that the idea of accepting bitcoin transactions came from his team. “We always talked about being innovative and being ahead of everyone else and not being a dinosaur here or you won’t last,” he said.
In its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, Tesla said that Bitcoin will be accepted as payment in the near future, “subject to applicable law and on a limited basis initially, which we may or may not liquidate upon receipt”. In that case, Tesla would be the first major automaker to accept the digital coin.
Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market value, saw higher price spikes after the Tesla News was released. It was trading above $ 47,000 per coin on Tuesday afternoon.
At the time Fertitta’s merchant introduced Bitcoin for transactions, the volatile digital coin was trading between $ 6,000 and $ 7,000 apiece. It was in the middle of about a year-long relapse, falling below $ 4,000 by December 2018. Bitcoin’s price had peaked at just under $ 20,000 in December 2017.
Bitcoin started a robust rally last year and topped the 2017 high in late November. A number of factors have been attributed to the great success of the digital coin, including its acceptance by high profile investors who have touted its potential as a hedge against inflation. Established companies like PayPal have also stepped into the crypto space, and some suggest that institutional adoption helped fuel Bitcoin’s upward trend.
Tesla’s adoption offers “strong endorsements” for Bitcoin as a store of value and as a means of payment, Allianz chief economic advisor Mohamed El-Erian told CNBC on Monday.
Fertitta has spoken positively about Bitcoin for years, telling CNBC in December 2017 that it was “staying here”.