El Salvador approves law to make Bitcoin legal tender
Central American country is world’s first nation to adopt a cryptocurrency
June 9, 2021|AFP|2
3 min read
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele. Photo: Marvin Recinos / AFP
Bitcoin is to become legal tender in El Salvador, the country’s president said, making it the first nation to adopt a cryptocurrency for everyday use.
Lawmakers in the Central American nation’s Congress passed a bill late on Tuesday that will eventually allow the famously volatile digital currency to be used for many aspects of daily life, from property purchases to tax contributions.
“The #BitcoinLaw has just been approved by a qualified majority” in the legislative assembly, President Nayib Bukele tweeted after the vote late on Tuesday. “History!” the president added.
The 39-year-old leader said a majority of 62 out of 84 lawmakers approved the bill, which he proposed just last week.  The law passed with the support of Bukele’s allies despite minority opposition parties – who had criticised the speed of the vote – refusing to back it.
Cryptocurrencies have soared in popularity due to their use as a store of value, the relative anonymity they offer users and wild price fluctuations that present opportunities for greater profits than investing on the regular stock exchanges of the world.
The volatility of bitcoin – currently priced at $33,814 – and its murky legal status have raised questions about whether it could ever replace traditional currency in day-to-day transactions.
But El Salvador – a small nation where four out of 10 people live in poverty – has turned to the top crypto asset that has been backed by billionaires like Elon Musk and large financial companies such as PayPal in a bid to boost its remittance-reliant economy.
El Salvador’s main currency is the US dollar and it remains unclear how the country plans to implement bitcoin as a functioning currency.
Yet the Salvadoran leader has hailed the virtual currency as “the fastest growing way to transfer” billions of dollars in remittances and to prevent millions from being lost to intermediaries. Remittances from Salvadorans working overseas represent a major chunk of the economy – equivalent to roughly 22 per cent of Gross Domestic Product. In 2020, remittances to the country totaled $5.9 billion, according to official reports.
‘On the world’s radar’
Before the vote, Bukele said adopting the cryptocurrency would bring “financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation and economic development” to the country.
“This is a law that will put El Salvador on the world’s radar, we will be more attractive for foreign investment,” Romeo Auerbach, deputy of the Grand Alliance for National Unity party, an ally of Bukele, said.
This is a law that will put El Salvador on the world’s radar, we will be more attractive for foreign investment
- Romeo Auerbach, an ally of President Nayib Bukele
The cryptocurrency market grew to more than $2.5 trillion by the middle of last month, according to the Coinmarketcap page, driven by interest from increasingly serious investors from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.
Between the beginning of 2020 and a peak in mid-April of $64,870, the price of bitcoin gained nearly 800 per cent. But since then, the cryptocurrency has fallen in value by more than 50 per cent.
Its price has fallen sharply towards a symbolic $30,000 threshold it has not crossed since January, dragging other cryptocurrencies in its wake. After Tuesday’s vote, the price jumped more than five per cent.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.
Support Us
Sponsored Articles
Comments not loading?
We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
Comments powered by Disqus
Independent journalism costs money.Support Us
Follow us:
Copyright © 2021 Times of Malta. All rights reserved.
Times of MaltaLatestNationalWorldOpinionCommunitySportMotoringBusinessEntertainmentTech & Gaming#TimesTalk