El Salvadorian Bitcoin Usage is Exceeding Expectations, Says Bukele

Updated by Ryan James
In Brief
  • President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador announced that adopting Bitcoin as legal tender has been more successful than expected.
  • Figures say that a half-million more people signed up in the first month than expected.
  • The extra attention has caused technical problems for the app, with some even losing their assets outright.
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According to a few recent Twitter posts, investors in El Salvador are putting more cash into Bitcoin ATMs than they are taking out. Bitcoin has been legal tender in El Salvador for little more than a month. 

President Nayib Bukele has become the most outspoken world leader when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption. Between making Bitcoin legal tender in El Salvador to mining it with volcanoes, Bukele has been busy. 

The latest from the Twitter desk of President Bukele is a claim that citizens are buying a lot more BTC than expected. “Since yesterday, Salvadorans are inserting more cash (to buy #bitcoin) than what they are withdrawing from the @chivowallet ATMs. And if we add remittances (almost $2 million per day), the incoming USD QUADRUPLES the outflow.” If the numbers prove to be correct, and consistent, the annual total could be around $750 million. 

In a separate tweet, President Bukele pointed out that, “for people that onboarded @chivowallet on September 21, the value of their #Bitcoin has gone up 35% in just 15 days.” He adds that “millions experiencing DEFLATION in real-time.” 

So far, more than three million people have downloaded Chivo in El Salvador. This is around half the population and 500,000 more than was expected. Bukele claims Chivo Wallet had more than 2 million active users in September. 

Many of these users are in the United States where 30 bitcoin ATMs have been erected to send remittances to El Salvador. Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles currently has the machines and, according to Bukele, are seeing millions send daily. 

El Salvador’s crypto experiment experiencing growing pains

Despite the high investment rate, Reuters says that a low percentage of businesses in El Salvador have processed a single bitcoin payment. Of the 233 companies polled in different areas of the country, just 7% reported processing crypto payments. 

Additionally, several technical issues have caused widespread issues over the first month of the rollout. Some have even lost money due to these technical bugs. 

Speaking with Reuters, a construction worker named Adalberto Galvez lost $220 when he tried to withdraw funds from his Chivo wallet. Galvez had been trading bitcoin for months without issue until the Chivo digital wallet. “It took my money but gave me nothing,” said Galvez after the error occurred. 

The President has attributed these issues with the popularity of bitcoin in El Salvador and the high demand for crypto.

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