Nayib Bukele put his country on the map by deciding to make Bitcoin the legal tender last year. However, not many people know that the Bitcoin transition had started in the region before he was elected as the President of El Salvador. Big Technology founder Alex Kantrowitz shares his insights about visiting the epicenter of Bitcoin in the country.
Kantrowitz talks about El Zonte, the beach of the country where it all started in 2019. A surfer named Mike Peterson received an anonymous donation of $100,000 Bitcoins for the betterment of the people. So, he started to invest the donation for developing the community, and the Bitcoin economy took off pretty soon in the region.
After Bukele was elected as the president, he heard about the Bitcoin transformation going on in the El Zonte region. He suggested that Bitcoin was helping people bypass the massive remittance fees that they had to pay, sending $6 billion to the loved ones from abroad. He also noticed that the people were mostly unbanked, and Bitcoin was providing them an opportunity to change that.
Soon after, the Salvadorian government started Chivo wallet and urged the local businesses to get on board. The transition seemed painful for some people at the start. It seems that Bitcoin allowed people to have a banking option and gain the ability to invest and purchase. The tourists who can make Bitcoin payments were able to get up to 75% discounts that also reflected nicely on the tourism industry.
Many people claim that working with Bitcoin is not an easy prospect for them since many people do not fully understand how it works. However, Roman Martinez, who is a partner of Peterson, opines that for many people in the region, it is the first time that they can hold an investment asset.
According to the recent survey, around 2.1 million people in the region have already used Bitcoin and created a Chivo wallet address. The government has big plans for the future, like building a Bitcoin City and issuing volcano bonds valued at $1 billion.