Ferrari allows wealthy US customers to pay for luxury cars with crypto

The Italian car maker says the move is in response to requests from customers who have invested in digital tokens

The new Ferrari Portofino. Wealth US buyers of the luxury car brand can now use cryptocurrencies. Reuters
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Italy's Ferrari has started to accept payment in cryptocurrency for its luxury sports cars in the US and will extend the scheme to Europe following requests from its wealthy customers, the company said.

The vast majority of blue-chip companies have steered clear of crypto as the volatility of Bitcoin and other tokens renders them impractical for commerce.

Patchy regulation and high energy usage have also prevented the spread of crypto as a means of payment.

These include electric car maker Tesla, which in 2021 began to accept payment in Bitcoin, the biggest crypto coin, before chief executive Elon Musk halted it because of environmental concerns.

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Ferrari's chief marketing and commercial officer Enrico Galliera said cryptocurrencies had made efforts to reduce their carbon footprint through the introduction of new software and a larger use of renewable sources.

"Our target to reach for carbon neutrality by 2030 along our whole value chain is absolutely confirmed," he said.

Ferrari said the decision came in response to requests from the market and dealers as many of its clients have invested in crypto.

"Some are young investors who have built their fortunes around cryptocurrencies," he said. "Some others are more traditional investors, who want to diversify their portfolios."

While some cryptocurrencies, such as the second-largest, Ether, have improved their energy efficiency, Bitcoin still attracts criticism for its energy-intensive mining.

Ferrari shipped more than 1,800 cars to its Americas region, which includes the US, in the first half of this year.

Mr Galliera did not say how many cars Ferrari expected to sell through crypto. He said the company's order portfolio was strong and fully booked well into 2025, but the company wanted to test this expanding universe.

"This will help us connect to people who are not necessarily our clients but might afford a Ferrari," he said.

The Italian company, which sold 13,200 cars in 2022, with prices starting at more than €200,000 ($211,000) and going up to €2 million, plans to extend the crypto scheme to Europe by the first quarter of next year and then to other regions where crypto is legally accepted.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa is Ferrari's largest region, accounting for 46 per cent of its total car shipments in the first half of this year.

"Interest is the same in the US and Europe, we don't see huge differences," Mr Galliera said.

Countries where cryptocurrencies are restricted include China.

Ferrari has turned to one of the biggest cryptocurrency payment processors, BitPay, for the initial phase in the US, and will allow transactions in Bitcoin, Ether and USDC, one of the largest so-called stablecoins.

Ferrari might use other payment processors in different regions.

"Prices will not change, no fees, no surcharges if you pay through cryptocurrencies," Mr Galliera said.

Bitpay will immediately turn cryptocurrency payments into traditional currency on behalf of Ferrari's dealers, so they are protected from price swings.

"This was one of our main goals: avoiding, both our dealers and us, to directly handle cryptocurrencies and being shielded from their wide fluctuations," Mr Galliera said.

As the payment processor, BitPay will ensure that the virtual currencies come from legitimate sources and not derived from criminal activity or to be used to launder the proceeds of crime or evade tax.

A majority of Ferrari's US dealers have already signed up, or are about to agree, to the scheme

"I am confident others will join soon," Mr Galliera said.

Updated: October 15, 2023, 10:33 AM