Quebec-based HGreg auto group is now accepting cryptocurrency as payment for new or used vehicles.
"Our desire to constantly evolve and improve our customers’ shopping experience inspires us to make bold decisions. Providing them with a greater variety of payment methods is part of it,” HGreg President John Hairabedian said in a news release. “We’re pleased today to be at the forefront of technology, giving our customers another payment option.”
Cryptocurrencies are not tied to a bank or government and users can spend the money anonymously. The coins are created by users who “mine” them by lending computing power to verify other users' transactions. They receive bitcoins in exchange. The coins also can be bought and sold on exchanges with U.S. dollars and other currencies. Some businesses also accept bitcoin.
The Associated Press in mid-February reported that digital currency has become popular enough that more than 300,000 transactions typically occur in an average day, according to bitcoin wallet site blockchain.info. Still, its popularity is low compared with cash and credit cards.
The most highly traded — and highest valued — digital currency is Bitcoin, of which a single unit on Feb. 16 was valued at a record US$50,600.
HGreg says that a portion of the revenue from sales made in cryptocurrency will be kept in digital format by the company. Hairabedian said that “it will be advantageous to keep some of our assets in cryptocurrency." He didn’t elaborate in the news release and wasn’t immediately available for comment.
HGreg says it has already carried out “a few” cryptocurrency transactions to test this new process. The company didn’t say whether the transactions were for new or used vehicles or after-market or service transactions.
HGreg operates 30 dealerships in North America, including 21 in Quebec.
HGreg isn’t the first company in the auto industry to bet on cryptocurrency.
CEO Elon Musk’s company said in a filing Monday it made the bet on Bitcoin after updating its investment policy last month to allow it to buy digital assets.
Tesla Inc. on Feb. 8 invested US$1.5 billion in Bitcoin and signalled its intent to begin accepting the cryptocurrency as a form of payment. The move sent prices soaring to that Feb. 16 record high.
“We expect to begin accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in the near future, subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis,” Tesla said in the securities filing.
Bloomberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report.