Agence France-Presse reports that “Two years ago, El Salvador shrugged off a chorus of warnings and adopted Bitcoin as legal tender in a bid to revitalize its economy and improve access to financial services.
“It has not worked… Economist Cesar Villalona told AFP that Bitcoin ‘does not exist in the local economy’ in any significant way, because in El Salvador ‘everything’ is paid in dollars: wages, services and goods.”
Bitcoin has lost more than half its value since then and though President Nayib Bukele is wildly popular for his clampdown on criminal gangs, his currency gamble has not gone down equally well… [T]wo years after El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as its currency, alongside the U.S. dollar, “the goals that were pursued… have not been achieved, people hardly use it, they don’t have much trust” in crypto, economist and former Reserve Bank governor Carlos Acevedo told AFP. “The experiment has not worked, it is a crypto winter,” he said.
There are no figures available on how many Salvadorans have taken up Bitcoin. But a poll conducted in May by the Central American University found that 71 percent believed the cryptocurrency “has in no way helped to improve their family economic situation.”
On the streets of San Salvador, the verdict is harsh. “I don’t see that money working, it’s just propaganda. Where’s the benefit? There’s no benefit. It’s a bad investment,” newspaper vendor Juan Antonio Salgado, 65, told AFP. “It’s robbery,” he added, in reference to the currency’s volatility.
Even a video report from Al Jazeera opens by asking “So has the experiment succeeded? The general verdict — not yet, at least.”
They report that even though one fifth of El Salvador’s GDP comes from remittances, less than 2% of its remittances went through crypto currency and digital wallets so far this year. Building has yet to begin on “Bitcoin City” — and the country has yet to actually issue the “Volcano Bonds” that would fund its creation.
And meanwhile, the government’s bitcoin purchases have now lost an estimated $45.4 million.