Uber will consider accepting bitcoin, says CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

By Robert Scammell

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said the ride-hailing company will “look at” accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for taxi journeys and food deliveries in the future.

Speaking to CNBC on Thursday, Khosrowshahi said Uber would only accept bitcoin if it benefited its customers and there was a demand for it.

“Just like we accept all kinds of local currency, we are going to look at cryptocurrency and/or bitcoin in terms of currency to transact,” he told CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ programme.

“That’s good for business. That’s good for our riders and our eaters. That we’ll certainly look at and if there’s a benefit there, if there’s a need there, we’ll do it. We’re just not going to do it as part of a promotion.”

Khosrowshahi added that Uber had decided not to follow in the footsteps of electric car company Tesla and buy bitcoin with corporate cash.

In a stock market filing published on Monday, Tesla revealed that it had invested $1.5bn in bitcoin and that it plans to accept bitcoin as form of payment for Tesla products “in the near future”.

“It’s a conversation that’s happened that has been quickly dismissed,” Khosrowshahi said in response to Tesla’s bitcoin investment. “We’re going to keep our cash safe. We’re not in the speculation business.

“The upside in our company is in the business that we’ve built, not the investments that we invest in.”

Tesla’s investment helped further propel bitcoin’s bull run, which began in November 2020 and saw its price surpass $40,000 for the first time in January.

On Thursday the digital currency hit a fresh high of $48,000 following the news that Mastercard plans to support cryptocurrency payments on its network this year.

One of America’s oldest banks, the Bank of New York Mellon, also announced that it would start to allow cryptocurrency transactions.

Despite growing institutional interest in the decentralised currency, few retail outlets accept bitcoin as a means of payment.

Uber’s revelation that it is considering accepting bitcoin payments may bolster its chances of mainstream adoption.

However, sceptics remain cautious about bictoin’s volatility, which remains a significant hurdle to becoming a widely adopted currency.

Bitcoin has also drawn criticism for the amount of energy it consumes, with a recent study by Cambridge University suggesting that mining to verify transactions uses more energy annually than Argentina.

Read more: Uber sells self-driving subsidiary to Aurora Technologies