Why did El Salvador adopt Bitcoin?

President Nayib Bukele pushed for El Salvador to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender in order to promote financial inclusion, regarding investments and advancing local economic development. 

On Tuesday, 9 June 2021, reports of El Salvador making history as the first country to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender began circulating. The news reports came after the El Salvador congress pushed for it to be signed into law. The decision was allegedly spearheaded by the new president, Nayib Bukele.

Bukele has been in office for two years, following his election win in 2019. The president is known to embrace the continued advent of technology and its infiltration into our everyday lives. The president is reported to continually be looking for ways to continue to endorse the embrace of technological advancement, like the adoption of cryptocurrency as a transactional currency.

On Saturday, 5 June 2021, Bukele made the announcement at the Bitcoin conference, which was held in Miami with a pre-recorded message, stating, “This will generate jobs and help provide financial inclusion to thousands outside the formal economy, and in the medium and long term we hope that this small decision can help us push humanity at least a tiny bit into the right direction.”

Following the official announcement, Bukele conducted a national press conference to detail the parameters of having legislated Bitcoin as a legal tender. First, he announced that adults would receive a $30 Bitcoin incentive, should they sign up with the state’s Bitcoin and cryptocurrency app. Moreover, the president did acknowledge the fears of the general public that his stance would mean that citizens would need to forgo the dollar as a currency.

However, Bukele made it clear that that is not the case. Citizens who are paid through Bitcoin will be able to convert their earnings back to dollars. Moreover, the salaries of citizens will continue to be paid in dollars.