We’re only a few weeks into El Salvador’s national rollout of bitcoin as legal tender – and the technical glitches continue.
As recently as last week, ElSalvador.com reported, users were taking to social networks to note that the Chivo virtual wallet, used to facilitate bitcoin transactions, was not working. In some cases, according to reports, the app was down – and in other cases, the incorrect amounts of bitcoin were being transferred.
Some users, according to the reports, got no response from the Chivo company. In some instances, users have been taking the $30 in bitcoin that comes when they embrace the app and converting it to cash. This seems counterintuitive to the rollout’s goals, which are to use bitcoin as legal tender while also cutting down on cash usage.
Wages in Bitcoin
There are still several efforts underway to get bitcoin more firmly entrenched in society. As reported this week in La Prensa Grafica, the U.S.-based Athena has started a program (known as Vanguard 1) in El Salvador that will enable employers to pay their employees’ wages in bitcoin.
“Employee participation in this payment system is completely optional, and if they decide, they will receive their payment in bitcoin through their Chivo Wallet,” the company said online.
As for the uptake to date: El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said this week that 2.1 million Salvadorans are using the Chivo cryptocurrency wallet. He tweeted that Chivo has more users than any bank in El Salvador, and is on track to “have more users than all banks in El Salvador combined! That is wild!”
2.1 million Salvadorans are ACTIVELY USING @chivowallet (not downloads).
Chivo is not a bank, but in less than 3 weeks, it now has more users than any bank in El Salvador and is moving fast to have more users that ALL BANKS IN EL SALVADOR combined.
This is wild!#Bitcoin
— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) September 25, 2021
Skeptics abound, of course. In one example, Dante Mossi, president of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE), was quoted as stating that it will “take years” for bitcoin to be fully utilized in everyday commerce – especially if it is to act as a “more traditional” currency.
One argument against cryptos, has been the energy required to mine them. In a nod to technological innovation, a Friday (Oct. 1) CNBC report said that El Salvador has mined 0.00599179 bitcoin (which would be worth roughly $269). That announcement comes from yet another Buekele tweet, where he said the mining equipment was still being tested and installed.
— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) October 1, 2021
At this writing, bitcoin has had quite a week, trading on Friday morning (Oct. 1) at more than $47,000, up more than 10%. Part of that buoyancy is tied to news that, per remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to the House Financial Services Committee, the United States will not be banning cryptocurrencies.