El Salvador is all set to make bitcoin legal tender by next week, and yet already the country is experiencing a lot of resistance and fear from its own people.
El Salvador Is Pushing Bitcoin, But Not Everyone’s Happy
In many ways, bitcoin is still a new – and struggling – technology. The world’s number one digital currency by market cap, like many of the globe’s cryptocurrencies, was initially designed to serve as a payment tool; something that would ultimately push checks, credit cards and fiat currencies to the side so it could be used for payments.
However, this journey has been slow to take shape given that the asset is extremely volatile. Its price goes up and down at a moment’s notice, and thus many businesses have been hesitant to permit bitcoin and its altcoin cousins for payments. El Salvador is the first country to put its entire economy and financial system on the line in the name of BTC, but not everyone is convinced this is a good idea – including some of the nation’s own people.
One of the biggest issues is that El Salvador allegedly seems prone to power outages, as witnessed in one situation involving a small business owner named Litha Maria de Los Angeles. Litha runs a small street food vending service and sells what is known as pupusas, which is a popular cornmeal-based flatbread. After selling some items to a customer, she scanned the person’s QR code and received a bitcoin payment for the items. Sadly, it wasn’t long before her power went out in a storm, meaning she was unable to fully process the payment or transfer it to fiat.
However, despite these little hiccups, there are regions of El Salvador where the bitcoin-pro attitude appears rather prominent. One such area is known as “Bitcoin Beach,” which is situated in El Zonte. Jose Roman Martinez, a 30-year-old co-founder of the Bitcoin Beach project, stated in a recent interview:
Now you can buy groceries, pupusas, or pay for your internet with bitcoin. For many people, this is the first time they’ve received a digital payment… When I was a kid, the only thing Salvadorans wanted to do was to cross the border and head to the US. Now the kids here are dreaming of better things.
Issues with Crypto Acceptance
But for many nearby residents, the idea of paying with bitcoin is not really flying. One economist named Ricardo Castaneda has been rather critical of Nayib Bukele – the president of El Salvador – and his ongoing push for bitcoin spending. He states:
The law was adopted extremely quickly without a technical study or a public debate. I don’t think the president has fully understood the implications of the law, its potential to cause serious macroeconomic problems and convert the country into a haven for money laundering.