Bitcoin undermines the future of El Salvador

Bitcoin undermines the future of El Salvador

AMERICAS © The Economist

A president who boasts of managing the country’s wealth from his smartphone hardly inspires confidence. All the less in an over-indebted state, and even less when the said president invests in bitcoin. Welcome to El Salvador, where a year ago President Nayib Bukele made this cryptocurrency legal tender, on par with the dollar. Most adults downloaded the Chivo digital wallet, which the government promoted by offering the equivalent of $30 in bitcoin to its users, but less than half continued to use it once the kitty was spent. On the business side, less than one in five comply with the injunction to accept it. Bitcoin is way too volatile. That the president chose to make it official currency says a lot about his leadership style. Since taking office as “the coolest dictator in the world”, in his own words, he has run his country of 6.5 million people like his private fiefdom. “The decision on bitcoin was not the subject of any debate”, recalls Claudia Ortiz, a personality of the opposition.

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