This article was published on September 8, 2021

A short timeline of El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption shit show

Not a dream start


A short timeline of El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption shit show Image by: Pierre Borthiry on Unsplash
Ivan Mehta
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Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

On Tuesday, El Salvador became the first country in the world to officially adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender. But the much-touted rollout didn’t go as expected, and faced plenty of obstacles and snags.

. Here’s a quick recap of what happened:

  • President Nayib Bukele started building up the hype on Twitter, as the country announced Bitcoin as a legal tender on September 7.
  • The country bought 200 Bitcoin, making it’s holding a total of 400 Bitcoin.
  • To promote the app, and adoption of the cryptocurrency, Bukele promised each user $30 worth of Bitcoin. 
  • While the hype was building up, the country’s official Bitcoin wallet app, Chivo Wallet, wasn’t available on Apple, Google, and Huawei’s app stores.
  • When the app became available on the Huawei store, it couldn’t handle the number of users registering simultaneously. So the government had to unplug its servers for a while to increase handling capacity.
  • A bunch of users later tweeted about being able to pay with the cryptocurrency at outlets such as McDonald’s and Starbucks.
  • While the celebratory chest-thumping was going on, people were protesting in the Supreme Court premises. Their point was that the cryptocurrency might not be useful for folks like bus drivers and shopkeepers.
  • By the end of the day, Bitcoin‘s value had tumbled by more than 10%.

El Salvador‘s Bitcoin adoption program didn’t start the way the country intended it to. However, Bukele noted that “Like all innovations, El Salvador‘s bitcoin process has a learning curve. Not everything will be achieved in a day, or in a month.” 

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