Individuals and civil society organizations insist on the failures of the Chivo Wallet. Some Salvadorans say that citizens need time to understand the advantages that Bitcoin offers.
The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, has stated that Bitcoin can help send remittances faster and at no cost. For that reason, the Chivo Wallet does not generate a payment of fees for the transactions that users conduct.
When transferring BTC with the government wallet, Salvadorans do not pay fees as they would do with Western Union or MoneyGram. Calculations by Bukele indicate that those cross-border payment service companies could lose around USD 400 million in fees a year.
The Salvadoran head of state wants Bitcoin to boost the economy and restore dynamism to productive activity. Remittances are essential since the Salvadoran population receives a volume of resources equivalent to 20.22% of its Gross Domestic Product.
Some Salvadorans See Bitcoin Adoption as a Mirage and others as a Reality
Amid the controversy about the Bitcoin Law, Bukele said that approximately 3 million Salvadorans had downloaded the Chivo Wallet. Data from the World Bank reveals that the country had a population of 6,453,553 in 2019, suggesting considerable adoption of Bitcoin.
Salvadoran citizens like Carlos Palomo have reported that there are huge lines at Chivo ATMs. He says that people go there to collect the USD 30 bonus that the government gives when downloading the app.
Some companies have enabled methods to receive payments with BTC, but paying with Bitcoin is not yet possible in all businesses. Fast-food chains such as Pizza Hut, KFC, and Wendy’s, besides large establishments, receive the cryptocurrency as a form of payment. However, the same does not happen in small retail shops.
The Salvadoran cyber activist Mario Gómez has a different position as he believes that the adoption of Bitcoin is just a mirage. He finds that many people download the Chivo Wallet to receive the government gift bonus. However, he says they are not doing it because they want to use Bitcoin, but because they want to exchange it for US dollars in cash.
Bitcoin Changes the Lives of Those Who Decide to Adopt It
A month after the Bitcoin Law entered into force; the lives of some Salvadorans have changed. César Borjas, a clothing merchant, considers himself a winner since he understands and takes advantage of the benefits of the cryptocurrency.
To experiment, he kept his balance in Bitcoin and, a short time later, earned USD 2 as the price of the cryptocurrency had risen. He then traded that small surplus and was back in USD 30 worth of BTC, which gave him a higher return days later.
Borjas has learned that today Bitcoin can have a price of USD 50,000 one day and go down 10% the next. However, its value can increase by 100% in a year, which has never happened with fiat money. He said that he would keep his money in Bitcoin as it is giving him a profit. Besides, he believes that it will continue to do so after not using it for six months.
By Alexander Salazar