Protests as El Salvador becomes first country to adoption bitcoin as legal tender - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Protests as El Salvador becomes first country to adoption bitcoin as legal tender

By Our Correspondent, with reports from Aljazera

*Bitcoin protest in El Salvador

Bitcoin is now officially legal tender in El Salvador, but the country’s landmark adoption of the world’s largest cryptocurrency got off to a less than auspicious start on Tuesday with protests and technical problems. 

 Before the law officially took effect at 3pm local time (21:00 GMT), the country’s new digital wallet – called Chivo – suffered glitches, forcing the government to take it offline while it boosted server capacity. 

 “We have disconnected it while increasing capacity of the image capture servers,” tweeted President Nayib Bukele.

 “The installation problems that some people had were for that reason.”

 As the government grappled with technical problems, a small but growing group of people opposed to the new Bitcoin law turned out to protest it in the capital San Salvador. 

Among them was University of El Salvador student Marvin Rivera. “I want to be clear that I don’t oppose Bitcoin,” he told Al Jazeera, holding a sign that read ‘No to Bitcoin, No to Dictatorship’. 

 “What we are against is the process that has happened and that we never had any say in this,” he said. 

 That sentiment has been echoed by both opponents and supporters of El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption. 

The common denominator among the divided population appears to be a lack of knowledge about the world’s biggest cryptocurrency and how the new Bitcoin law will be implemented. 

 Glitches and doubling down Bukele tweeted on Monday evening around 7:30pm ET (23:00 GMT) that the nation had bought 200 Bitcoins, a doubling down that brought its total holdings to 400. 

At the time of the tweet, that investment was worth just shy of $21m, according to CoinMarketCap. 

By 11am ET (16:00 GMT) Tuesday, the value had fallen to around $17.8m before clawing back some of the loss. 

 The volatility of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is so infamous it’s given rise to the acronym HODL – hold on for dear life. It’s also why 22-year-old student Daniela Romero joined the anti-Bitcoin law protest on Tuesday.

 “If we don’t understand Bitcoin, then people will lose money when the price drops,” she told Al Jazeera. 

“We need a lot more education or people will be taken advantage of.” President Bukele stunned the crypto and wider world in June when he announced that his nation would adopt Bitcoin as legal tender alongside the United States dollar, which has been the currency in the tiny, indebted central American nation since 2001. 

 With just 90 days to prepare for the historic adoption, teething problems surfaced early on Tuesday when the much-anticipated Chivo digital wallet disappeared from app stores. Chivo will allow people to use either Bitcoin or US dollars and transfer between the two without fees. 

The newly installed Chivo ATMs around the city were also not working, and there was confusion about when the app would be available again or when ATMs would be functional. Kevin Moreno, 30, was waiting in line to use a new Chivo ATM late on Tuesday morning.

 He had already downloaded the app and received the $30 sign-up bonus in Bitcoin that the government is offering as an incentive to spur adoption.

 “I’m mostly just curious; I like to try new things,” Moreno told Al Jazeera.

 Later in the day, he said he would help his boss learn how to accept payments in the nutritional supplement shop where he worked. 

Meanwhile, the president took to Twitter to calm his critics and do some high-level customer service. 

“Could you please try to register and post in the comments if there are any errors or if the whole process works fine?” he wrote.

 People queue at a newly installed Chivo ATM in San Salvador . Bukele’s tweet storm Tuesday was in Spanish, though he often tweets about Bitcoin in English, where his target audience seems to be the international Bitcoin community. 

He has pitched El Salvador as a destination for both Bitcoin companies as well as individuals, promoting no capital gains taxes on investments in the cryptocurrency, no property tax and even offering residency to any foreigner who spends three Bitcoin in the cou

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