Elon Musk initially disses, then considers using Bitcoin on Mars

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While initially resistant to the idea of using Bitcoin (BTC) as currency on Mars, Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder Elon Musk may have just come around on the matter — but barely.

In a Space on X (formerly Twitter) titled “ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF (ARKB) Approved,” with ARK Invest CEO Cathie Wood, Musk initially shot down using Bitcoin as a currency on Mars due to the significant time it takes to settle transactions.

“It would make sense to use some kind of cryptocurrency on Mars; you couldn’t use Bitcoin because the reconciliation is too long.” 

This comes amid Musk’s ongoing vision of building a colony on Mars by 2050, contending that humans must evolve into a multiplanet species to survive. 

Elon answers what money he would use on Mars: pic.twitter.com/VJQeIM0qqJ

— Sam Callahan (@samcallah) January 11, 2024

However, after verbally brainstorming by himself, Musk concluded it might actually be feasible given Earth is only eight light minutes from the sun while Mars is approximately 12 light minutes — though it will still face obstacles.

“Perhaps you can use Bitcoin to some degree, but it would be difficult to use it a lot on Mars,” he stated, adding the potential need for a localized network on the planet:

“Mars can be like twenty light minutes away. So, it is not easy, there would have to be a localized thing on Mars.” 

Following this, Musk agreed with Bitcoin core developer Matt Corallo that Bitcoin’s slow transaction speed could be tackled through a localized Lightning Network.

Bitcoin currently takes up to one hour to secure transactions because its blockchain assembles them into 10-minute blocks, requiring confirmation of six blocks before the transaction is finalized.

Closer to Mars every day thanks to @SpaceX and @elonmusk . pic.twitter.com/DiDYGpdzh9

— Eva McMillan ♥️ (@EvasTeslaSPlaid) January 10, 2024

However, Blockstream CEO Adam Back was more optimistic about the idea, with or without a localized Lightning Network in Bitcoin’s current form. He replied to the X Space thread, stating, “12-22 light minutes is no problem with 10-minute blocks.”

Related: Bitcoin Lightning Network growth jumps 1,200% in 2 years

In April 2023, data from Glassnode indicated that the Bitcoin Lightning Network is significantly cheaper to use than other legacy payments.

According to Glassnode, the cost of sending value across the Lightning Network is 0.0029%, which is approximately 1,000 times cheaper than Mastercard or Visa payment processors.

Meanwhile, there has been speculation over whether Musk will implement the option of using cryptocurrencies on X, as he plans to transform it into an “everything app.”

According to reports in January 2023, two people familiar with X’s plans said that the payments feature could accommodate cryptocurrencies should the opportunity arise. 

On Aug. 5, 2023, Musk replied to a user on X, stating that he “never will” launch a crypto token on the platform.

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