Billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has revealed a handful of people have paid in bitcoin for their place on board the Virgin Galactic spaceship.
Back in November, Branson announced his commercial space flight venture Virgin Galactic was to accept payment in bitcoins and, just two months later, “six or seven” people have already paid for their tickets in the digital currency.
Earlier this month, Virgin Galactic took its SpaceShipTwo on its third test flight, with the craft reaching 71,000 feet – its highest yet.
SpaceShipTwo is a consumer-ready vehicle designed to fly to the edge of space. It is partly based on the technology of SpaceShipOne, the craft that completed the first manned private spaceflight in 2004.
Branson told CNBC he was very interested in bitcoin, but shouldn’t be considered its number one advocate.
“What I’m saying is we have a spaceship company and if people have made a lot of money out of bitcoin … we’ll accept their money and send them to space,” he added.
Speaking in Davos, Switzerland, the entrepreneur revealed he has invested some of his own money in bitcoin, however he is not 100% convinced bitcoin will be the cryptocurrency that succeeds over all others. He said:
“I think there will be a global currency that will take on [J.P. Morgan CEO] Jamie Dimon and the other banks and other currencies. That will be the future. I suspect that if it isn’t bitcoin, someone else like Square will … come up with that currency.”
Branson’s comments follow an interview between CNBC and Dimon, in which the CEO said JPMorgan would be unlikely to have much to do with bitcoin.
“The question isn’t whether we accept it. The question is do we even participate [with] people who facilitate bitcoin?” he said.
Branson, on the other hand, is much more open to the idea of a new, dominant currency. He deems the idea of a new global currency “very exciting” and said, in his CNBC interview, he supports the use of a currency that doesn’t require large fees and charges to move around.
“Whoever is behind bitcoin is brilliant – it’s a brilliant first step,” he added.
Branson was later asked who he believed to be the most instrumental person in the world of business over the past 25 years.
“I personally think Larry Page from Google, and obviously Sergey [Brin] who has worked very closely with him. They’ve created a formidable company. They’ve transformed the world in many ways,” he replied.