Bitcoin Adoption in El Salvador: Not as Widespread as You May Think

El Salvador and Bitcoin have become synonymous ever since the country's president Nayib Bukele announced a bill in June 2021 that adopted Bitcoin as legal tender in the country. It was not the first time the cryptocurrency was pushed in the country. In 2019, the small village of El Zonte (population 3,000) adopted BTC as a payment method following an anonymous donation of $100k worth of satoshis. The donation came with catch: that a circular economy had to be adopted by the village using Bitcoin. Anyway, the experiment has since become famous as "Bitcoin Beach" and frequently brought up by the laser-eyed as an example of using crypto as legal tender.



So how is Bitcoin adoption coming along in El Salvador? While I have not personally visited the country, I have spoken to a few El Salvadorians on the matter. The general consensus is that the older population is very much against digital money. The few anecdotal stories I've been told are usually that anyone over 40 years old doesn't understand or want to understand the technology. Simply, they don't want to be bothered. 

The younger crowd, however, seems to like it. One person in particular I have spoken to finds Bitcoin to be much easier to send money back home to EL Salvador from the United States. They told me it was faster and cheaper. That really resonated with me and made a lot of sense.

As far as others' accounts of Bitcoin adoption in El Salvador, there are a great number of resources on the subject. Most recently, Carl ₿ Menger has posted a lengthy report on his trip to the country. In an April 5th entry on his Substack, he writes: "as it is with long-established traditions, they are difficult to break. Since the population does not see the immediate rapid devaluation that is the case in Zimbabwe, Venezuela, or Lebanon, for example, it is rather a steady slow grind to the bottom, so they do not really see an immediate need to hold or accept Bitcoin. Comparable to our slow adaptation in the West, regardless of whether there is a law or not."

The following video, from Cointelegraph, provides another recent view on adoption:

The main issue with adoption seems to be access to education and actual onboarding for businesses. It is definitely a slow process, but is coming along nonetheless. For Bitcoin tourists, it is definitely advisable to use BTC maps to do your research prior to visiting to see exactly what businesses have adopted. 

Additional links on the subject are listed below in the resources list.

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dot com boomer - writing mostly on crypto, stocks, entertainment, etc.

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