Karma Automotive, a luxury car manufacturer based in California, has just announced its intentions to explore blockchain technology with its shareholders. The means by which the firm intends to this is by accepting Bitcoin.
Although NewsBTC has featured many so-called Bitcoin acceptance stories in the past, this one appears to have a big difference. Karma Automotive seems to be taking payment in Bitcoin directly, rather than with the help of a third-party company.
Is it Really Acceptance if You Never Even See the Bitcoin?
According to a post in AutoFutures written by the manufacturer itself, Karma Automotive will be using its flagship Newport Beach, California, showroom to help demonstrate the power of blockchain technology for payments and more. The firm will now be accepting Bitcoin for new services completed and vehicles purchased at the company-owned store.
Dr. Lance Zhou, the CEO of Karma, stated the following of the move:
“We are opening our platform to serve as a test bed to help convert theoretical blockchain applications to practical use.”
Zhou added that the company will be partnering with the Wanxiang Group, Karma’s primary shareholder, to work on blockchain solutions and their application. The first step towards familiarisation with the technology for the company to accept Bitcoin.
Given Zhou’s insistence on the move being an effort to help shareholders understand Bitcoin and the technology behind it, it appears that this is indeed a rare case of genuine Bitcoin acceptance. Previously, when NewsBTC has reported on so-called acceptance stories, the word “accept” is used very liberally. It would be much more accurate to say that customers of the likes of AT&T and other big names can pay for products using Bitcoin or other crypto assets rather than these companies accepting the cryptocurrency.
Making such payments possible are payment processing companies. These services act as a middleman to the transaction (ironic, no?) and simply perform an exchange - the customer’s preferred currency for that of the retailer.
Many people take issue with these kinds of services for a variety of reasons. Firstly, companies appear to use Bitcoin payment processors as a marketing ploy - “we might attract Bitcoiners doing this” sort of thing. Secondly, payment processors actually have the power to censor transactions. For many cryptocurrency advocates, it is precisely because it is practically impossible to censor a transaction using Bitcoin that makes the technology attractive to begin with.
Recent evidence shows that payment processors can and will censor transactions if pressured. The Hong Kong Free Press had public donations withheld by Bitcoin payment processor BitPay earlier this year.
That said, there are certainly advantages to having massive names take payments in Bitcoin, even if it is through a payment processor. It serves to normalise Bitcoin use, for example. The more “Bitcoin Accepted Here” links at the online checkouts of huge household names an individual sees, the more difficult it becomes for them to continue holding onto the kind of grudges created by the mainstream media narrative that Bitcoin is a tool for criminals and nothing more.
With the Karma announcement, there has been no mention of working with a payment processing service whatsoever. NewsBTC looked at the directories of companies working with the major crypto payment processors and found no evidence of Karma Automotive listed. It does indeed look like the company will be accepting Bitcoin directly and, in doing so, is doing a great service for the industry as a whole.