Elon Musk says bitcoin "on the verge" of being more widely accepted

 Billionaire Elon Musk said on Monday bitcoin was "on the verge" of being more widely accepted among investors as he expressed his support for the cryptocurrency in a chat on social media app Clubhouse that drew thousands of listeners.

The comments followed his use of the "#bitcoin" tag on his Twitter profile on Friday, which pushed the crytocurrency up 14%.

Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc, is known for making comments on Twitter that move markets and he acknowledged this during his debut on the invitation-only app Clubhouse.

"I am a supporter of bitcoin," he said.

"I was a little slow on the uptake," he said, adding he should have bought it eight years ago.

"I think bitcoin is on the verge of getting broad acceptance by conventional finance people." 

Bitcoin last traded up 3.7% at $34,390, having surged over 300% in 2020.

On the wide-ranging chat Musk discussed memes, Mars, his companies, and vaccines, among other topics. He also interviewed Vladimir Tenev, co-founder of online stock broker app Robinhood, which is under fire for blocking retail investors from purchasing GameStop stock.

GameStop stock surged some 400% in the past week after retail investors banded together to buy shares in the U.S. video game retailer, sending hedge funds scrambling to cover losing bets.

Tenev said the market rumour was untrue that Citadel Securities - the market-making arm of billionaire hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin - had pressured Robinhood into blocking retail investors.

"That's just false," Tenev said, adding that Robinhood temporarily halted trading to meet regulatory capital requirements.

Musk last week tweeted "Gamestonk!!," which many in the market interpreted as an apparent show of support for small investors. "Stonks" is a tongue-in-cheek term for stocks widely used on social media.

Musk also chatted about COVID-19 vaccines, saying he expected an avalanche of them soon. He added that authorities should focus on giving out the first dose of vaccines soon and worry about the second shot later, to speed things up. 

(Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in Singapore and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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