This Guy Just Reserved His Tesla 3 with Bitcoin

  • JJ Hornblass
  • April 4, 2016
  • 0
Tesla Model 3 prototype

Tesla Model 3 prototype

Of the more than 250,000 people who have pre-ordered a Tesla 3 in the last three days, one guy stands out.

That guy is Mason Borda, a software engineer at BitGo, a bitcoin security firm. Borda uniquely has figured out how to pay for his $1,000 Tesla 3 reservation with bitcoin — 2.413612 bitcoins, to be precise.

Needless to say, bitcoin is not among Tesla’s currency options, so how Borda did so deserves mention. First, he set up an account with a just-launched startup called Shake, which allowed him to create a debit card backed by his bitcoin. Shake, which is still in alpha, went public on March 19.

Then Borda used his new Shake debit card and attached it to a bitcoin wallet — one which happens to be made available by his employer, BitGo.

Using my homebrew SMS interface for my BitGo web wallet, I loaded up a card on Shakepay with Bitcoin, and used the card to preorder a Tesla Model 3. The entire process took me 60 seconds once my card was loaded. There was no credit check involved, or a waiting period for the credit card to arrive in the mail — it just worked.

It is not clear what is entailed in that “homebrew SMS interface,” but suffice it to say, Borda is on the list.

This is not the first time someone has pulled off an unlikely bitcoin-based purchase like this. Back on May 22, 2010, Florida programmer Laszlo Hanyecz talked a Papa Johns outlet into accepting the 10,000 Bitcoins he’d “mined” on his computer in exchange for two pizzas. Eventually, the value of the bitcoin Hanyecz used skyrocketed to $7 million. Apparently, it was good pizza. Commemoration of this purchase is now bitcoin’s unofficial holiday, known, naturally, as Bitcoin Pizza Day. Is Bitcoin Tesla Day next?

Here’s how Borda summed up his unique Tesla transaction:

As [entrepreneur] Steve Coast said, “The world will only get weirder.” How right he was. I just preordered an automobile that I have never seen or touched, which is propelled by electrons flowing through copper wires, that has a 0–60 of under four seconds and supposedly comes with no instrument cluster. I preordered this vehicle with an invisible currency that was invented by a pseudo-anonymous computer programmer who calls himself Satoshi Nakamoto and is likely not Japanese. I made this purchase using a service that dispenses ephemeral credit cards made by some Canadian guy that I met online named Jean. Whom I met after placing a $400 Bitcoin bounty for creating a Bitcoin payable API endpoint that could order and deliver me pizza upon payment. Weird.

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JJ started the first iteration of Bank Innovation back in 2007, and has been working on it ever since. He also serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Royal Media, Bank Innovation’s parent. He founded Royal in 1995 and oversees all aspects of the New York-based diversified media company. Prior to forming Royal, JJ was on the editorial staff of American Banker, the daily newspaper, and worked as an editor of a business magazine in Hong Kong. As a reporter and editor, he has won journalism awards from the National Press Foundation, Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has a BS in Economics from Yeshiva University and a Master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was also a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and son. He counts among his accomplishments one New York City Marathon, two New York City Triathlons and the 2010 Father’s Day 5K, the first race he ever ran with his daughters. He can be reached at or 212-564-8972.

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