El Zonte in El Salvador is known as “Bitcoin Beach.” It’s a relatively small location in a country that very few people could point out on a map. However, it’s doing a lot for the world’s number one digital currency by market cap in that it’s allowing the asset’s name to grow and enter mainstream status.
El Zonte Is Becoming One with Bitcoin
Many businesses in El Zonte – which has become a tourist town – accept BTC as a method of payment. It was one of the first regions to push a digital currency agenda, and it’s attracting several people from around the world as a result. Andreas Kohl, for example, recently visited from Liechtenstein in Europe. Reporters caught up with him to get his ideas on bitcoin and the city. He commented that while he doesn’t surf, he’ll probably wind up taking it up during his stay. He also said:
Bitcoin city’s happening here, and it might be the next Singapore. I want to see it happen.
It’s interesting that such a small city of just over 3,000 people could become so significant in the growing digital currency arena, but that’s exactly what’s happened. El Zonte, at one point, was nothing but a standard beach town with livestock and a few locals walking about, but that all changed when Mike Peterson – an expatriate from San Diego, CA with an economics degree – came to the region.
Discussing how he got involved in the area, he commented:
I wound up here on a surf trip, I think, like 18 years ago. Fell in love with the warm water, the nice waves, but most especially the people here.
Peterson, at one stage, was a well-to-do financial planner. He moved to El Zonte a few years later and started a mission to help the people in the area. He began a charity called Mission Sake in the year 2015 that funds both missionaries and scholarships and has created several local jobs. At the time, many residents were forced to leave the country if they wanted to find work.
That’s kind of the cycle we’ve seen of destruction of people having to leave because there’s not enough opportunity. Then their kids are growing up without their parents here so they’re very vulnerable to the gangs. They join the gangs, the gangs grow, and you have this kind of destructive cycle.
How Crypto Got Involved
From there, things began to change. In 2019, he was connected to an anonymous donor who wanted to put his (or her) bitcoin fortune to good use, which is how the bitcoin agenda in the city was born. Peterson says:
The stipulation was you can’t just convert it into dollars because they believe the actual usage of bitcoin would be what would benefit the people.