One of El Salvador’s biggest newspapers has tried to answer the question of what Salvadorans have been doing with their USD 30 bitcoin (BTC) handouts – finding five ways they’ve been using it.
The government has attempted to incentivize BTC adoption and drive up interest in its Chivo crypto wallet and app by offering new users USD 30 worth of BTC credit.
ElSalvador.com, the website of the El Diario de Hoy newspaper identified five ways Salvadorans have been attempting to make instant use of their BTC funds in a new report.
Here they are:
1. Convert to fiat
Those who want to turn their tokens into fiat USD need to take a roundabout route to do so. The government has blocked handout recipients from directly “cashing out” at Chivo BTC ATMs. But YouTubers have posted a range of workarounds, which basically involve users transferring their funds to friends or family members. The recipient then reciprocates by doing likewise. This then allows users to “withdraw” the full USD 30 from a Chivo ATM.
2. Sell the BTC…at a loss
The media outlet reported that Facebook Marketplace is now awash with people offering to “buy” citizens’ USD 30 BTC handouts for USD 25 in cash, paying out in bank transfers or via e-pay platforms. The media outlet added as a caveat that those going down this path should “be careful as this could lead to scams” hatched by “malicious people.”
3. Spend it on groceries
“Supermarkets,” the media outlet noted, accept Chivo BTC payments (as do a whole host of other retailers and service providers in the nation). So Salvadorans have been using the BTC on their weekly shopping trips “as long as the Chivo wallet system is working,” it added acerbically.
4. Transfer it to “another, more secure wallet”
The media outlet, which is broadly skeptical on all things BTC and President Nayib Bukele-related, wrote that “some people distrust the state-issued Chivo app,” citing centralized control as a reason. As such, it added that some have chosen “more secure and decentralized wallet options” – even if doing so means they have to pay commission fees for withdrawals.
5. Bank it
Some have been exploring workarounds that will allow them to credit bank accounts. Again, this makes use of working in tandem with a friend, using a function of the Chivo app to credit another person’s USD bank account using BTC funds. The friend then reciprocates, leaving both parties with USD 30 in both parties’ bank accounts. The media outlet noted that “sometimes” this process is “not immediate,” but was nonetheless “effective.”
Elsewhere, a leading economist has warned that wide-scale BTC adoption should be seen as a long-term project rather than a quick-fix process.
According to La Prensa Gráfica, the president of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) Dante Mossi stated that the adoption of bitcoin as legal tender is an “innovative project,” but the widespread use of the coin in El Salvador “will take years.”
Mossi added that while “financial inclusion” via BTC was an “innovative” move, it would “still take a long time” for BTC “to become a currency that competes with […] more traditional currencies.”
And Bukele, who not so long ago (jokingly) labeled himself as the “Dictator of El Salvador” has now edited his Twitter profile to describe himself as the “coolest dictator in the world.”
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