Sir Richard Branson announced Friday that Virgin Galactic, his commercial space flight venture, will accept the cyber currency bitcoin as payment for future rocket travel.
Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur and an early bitcoin investor, teased the idea in a tweet before elaborating in a blog post and appearing on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (below) via Skype from Necker Island, his private Caribbean enclave. Labeling the digital payment option “a new exciting currency,” he said Virgin Galactic has already accepted its first bitcoin transaction from a flight attendant from Hawaii. It was transferred into actual dollars so there’s a fixed price, he added, and “we can actually pay her the money back if she changes her mind about going to space in a few months.”
Seats on the eventual flights currently cost $250,000 each, or about 321 bitcoins. As far as his reasoning goes, Branson is convinced Virgin Galactic is “driving a revolution” and that bitcoin is doing the same when it comes to reinventing society’s idea of currency. This week, a Los Angeles-based online travel agency and a private university in Cyprus became the latest businesses to begin accepting the decentralized digital payments. Bitcoin was trading at $13 in January, but had just topped $600 as the Department of Justice told a Senate committee that it wasn’t illegal.