Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has said that the company will now be directly accepting Bitcoin from consumers wishing to purchase cars.

The pay by Bitcoin system is currently only available in the US, but the billionaire has said the feature will be expanded to other countries later this year.

It follows the car company last month announcing that it had invested $1.5bn (£1.09bn) in the notoriously volatile cryptocurrency, sending it to a record high.

A single Bitcoin is currently trading at just over £41,000 – up from the £5,600 it was worth on this date last year.

Bitcoin paid to Tesla will be retained as the cryptocurrency, Musk said, not converted to cash.

It is the latest vote of confidence in the cryptocurrency to come from the billionaire since he gave its price a boost by adding a “#bitcoin” tag to his Twitter profile page.

He removed the tag a few days later but has continued talking up Bitcoin, saying it was “on the verge” of being more widely accepted by investors.

Announcing the investment, Tesla said in its regulatory filing that its decision was part of a broad investment policy aimed at diversifying and maximising its returns on cash.

It said it had invested a total $1.5bn in the cryptocurrency and could “acquire and hold digital assets from time to time or long-term”.

The disclosure comes after Tesla recently reported that it had made an annual profit for the first time after years of losses.

At the time analysts said the move by the car company – which last year overtook bigger-selling conventional rivals to become the largest by value as its share price surged – could prove a gamechanger for Bitcoin.

Eric Turner, vice president of market intelligence at cryptocurrency research firm Messari, said: “I think we will see an acceleration of companies looking to allocate to Bitcoin now that Tesla has made the first move.

“One of the largest companies in the world now owns Bitcoin and by extension, every investor that owns Tesla (or even just at S&P 500 fund) has exposure to it as well.”

Bitcoin has set new record highs at the start of this year after a bumpy ride for investors over the past decade, with major financial institutions starting to offer support.

Central banks such as the Bank of England have remained sceptical but some suggest that as it becomes more accepted it could become more attractive as a store of value.

(c) Sky News 2021: Elon Musk says Tesla is now accepting Bitcoin for car purchases

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