A national address to El Salvador’s citizens saw a first today: a president conducting a tutorial on how to use a Bitcoin wallet.
And not any Bitcoin wallet: as Bukele announced previously, the Salvadoran government is working on a wallet application for the country to support the addition of Bitcoin as legal tender. Called Chivo, the wallet will allow its users to send and receive bitcoin, as well as convert bitcoin to U.S. dollars.
“The use of bitcoin will be optional, nobody will receive bitcoin if they don’t want it […] If someone receives a payment in bitcoin, they can choose to automatically receive it in dollars,” Bukele said in his address.
This may appease critics who previously voiced concerns over Bitcoin’s legal tender status in El Salvador, which obligates merchants to accept bitcoin if offered. The government-provided wallet, which will be available for use on mobile devices without any mobile data plans, is set to allow bitcoin recipients to control their exposure to the asset based on their preferences.
To boost adoption of the app and Bitcoin in the country, Bukele further shared that every citizen to sign up for Chivo will receive $30 in bitcoin, or 0.00086 bitcoin at press time. Assuming half of El Salvador’s 6.5 million citizens take Bukele up on the offer, the government would be distributing almost $100 million worth of bitcoin to its people, worth around 2,800 bitcoin at the time of writing.
The “Ley Bitcoin” (Bitcoin Law) will go into effect on September 7th.
When he closed his national address, Bukele hinted at the recent criticism El Salvador has received for its move, especially from the likes of the World Bank, IMF, and others. “Who’d be against something that helps the people and doesn’t do any harm? They’re probably politically motivated,” he was quoted saying.
While El Salvador continues to move quickly towards its national Bitcoin standard, others appear to be moving in the opposite direction: earlier this week, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), often dubbed “the central bank of central banks,” released a paper on the benefits of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) stating that Bitcoin “has few redeeming public interest attributes when also considering its wasteful energy footprint.”
Meanwhile, El Salvador is further working on Bitcoin mining operations powered by geothermal energy produced by the countries multiple volcanos.