El Salvador was one of the first countries to declare bitcoin legal tender. Quite a few people were happy about it and felt that this would potentially put the country on the map. However, some – like Vitalik Buterin – are angry that so many analysts, traders and general crypto fans continue to encourage president Nayib Bukele in his push to make bitcoin more than what it’s allegedly supposed to be.
Vitalik Buterin: Bukele Is Making a Mistake
Buterin is the co-creator of Ethereum, the primary competitor to bitcoin. In a recent interview, he was critical of the idea that business owners in El Salvador are being forced to accept bitcoin for goods and services. He recently stated:
Shame on everyone (ok, fine, I’ll call out the main people responsible: shame on bitcoin maximalists) who are uncritically praising him.
At first glance, the argument seems strange. Wasn’t bitcoin initially designed to serve as a payment currency? Wasn’t it designed to push credit cards, checks, and fiat currencies aside? El Salvador is taking this dream to the next level, so it seems like crypto maniacs like Buterin would be happy about the situation.
At the same time, Buterin offers a valid point in his discussion. He says that bitcoin was also designed to be free of government influence, and in El Salvador, it is the government that’s enforcing bitcoin upon everyone. Thus, the cryptocurrency has become exactly what it was built not to be. It is taking on the form of a centralized financial entity that regulators are using to shape out their own monetary systems.
Making it mandatory for businesses to accept a specific cryptocurrency is contrary to the ideals of freedom that are supposed to be so important to the crypto space. Additionally, this tactic of pushing BTC to millions of people in El Salvador at the same time with almost no attempt at prior education is reckless and risks a large amount of innocent people getting hacked or scammed.
He Just Loves Being Praised
One person on Reddit commented that Bukele had purchased bitcoin when it was super cheap and that by making it mandatory for companies to utilize, the asset would ultimately spike to unprecedented levels, but Buterin disagreed with this idea. He said:
Both for political reasons and because he’s a human being like the rest of us, he just loves being praised by people he considers powerful (i.e., Americans). Bitcoin maximalists are a very easy community to get to praise you: you just have to be in a position of power and do or say nice things about them and their coin.
El Salvador declared bitcoin legal tender beginning September 7. The country’s crypto rollout has been problematic to say the least, with the Chivo wallet system designed to support BTC experiencing many technical glitches along the way.