Crypto currency

How exactly do El Salvador consumers make Bitcoin payments?

  • The focus is not on shop purchases but on remittances from abroad.
  • The change in law doesn’t come into effect until September 2021.
  • Use of Bitcoin is already legal in El Salvador.
  • El Salvador uses the US dollar and does not have its own fiat currency.

According to Reuters

The Central American country last week became the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, with President Nayib Bukele touting the cryptocurrency’s potential as a remittance currency for Salvadorans overseas.

Monthly bitcoin transfers of under $1,000 – a proxy for money sent to the country from Salvadorans working abroad – totalled $1.7 million in May compared to $424,000 year earlier, U.S. crypto researcher Chainalysis found.

Such transfers hit a peak of $2.5 million in March, though a comparison with the previous year was unavailable.

El Salvador is heavily reliant on remittances. In 2019, transfers using traditional money totalled nearly $6 billion – around a fifth of GDP – one of the highest ratios in the world, according to the World Bank.

Other commentators have pointed out problems:

While any cryptocurrency can well facilitate more efficient transfers (without the charges banks impose), the significance of remittances to the Salvadoran economy points to another issue. El Salvador is a poor country, with one of the lowest rates of internet use in the Americas – 33% in 2017, according to World Bank data.

How many vendors, street hawkers or farmers are equipped to handle cryptocurrency transactions? US dollars will more than likely remain the default currency.

So small shops and businesses in El Salvador without the necessary technology are exempt from the new law.

The majority of transactions in El Salvador will continue to be paid in US dollars.

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