No obligation to use Bitcoin (BTC) in El Salvador
In early July, a majority of residents of El Salvador declared themselves skeptical about the adoption of Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender. Is President Bukele’s recent statement a response to this mistrust? Some might think so.
Using Twitter, his preferred means of communication, the Salvadoran president has indeed announced that the use of BTC will not be compulsory in the country.
Esto será lo que pasará el 7 de septiembre:
La gente podrá bajar una aplicación para recibir pagos o regalos en #bitcoin o DÓLARES.
Si quieren la descargarán y si no quieren, no.
Con ella recibirán $ 30 dólares equivalent in #bitcoin para consumo.
Si quieren, si no, no.
– Nayib Bukele 🇸🇻 (@nayibbukele) August 23, 2021
To justify this news, Bukele denounces the fear generated by the opposition which, according to him, has “won a battle”.
From September 7, every citizen and merchant will have the choice to download or not a mobile application to receive BTC or American dollar (USD), the other legal tender currency in El Salvador. Those who use BTC will receive the equivalent of $ 30.
Although the president strongly encourages the use of Bitcoin, notably mentioning the possible exchange and transfer fees applied to the dollar, this will therefore not be an obligation.
👉 On the same subject – Salvador: the “Bitcoin Law” adopted, the country becomes a crypto-nation
The Bitcoin law provided for mandatory use of BTC in El Salvador
Although the status of Bitcoin is not called into question by this announcement, it is still a significant decline.
Indeed, article 7 of the law establishing the BTC as legal tender provided that all economic agents had the obligation to accept the BTC as a means of payment if the customer wished to use it to acquire a good or a service.
Asked about the subject, Ernesto Sanabria, a spokesperson for Bukele, did not say whether Article 7 would be amended or simply repealed before September 7. It seems legally essential that this article be amended at least so that the declarations of the Salvadoran president are effectively applicable.
Bukele, on the other hand, clarified what digital wallets would be for using BTC. On these wallets, every resident of El Salvador will have the option of accepting payment in BTC or USD, receiving money from family and friends, and paying, all without a penny of commission.
He mischievously adds that those who prefer to pay commissions at Western Union will still have the right to do so.
El Salvador projects delayed by this lack of obligation to use BTC?
Regardless, this news is not necessarily going in the right direction for the acceptance of BTC in El Salvador. Since the adoption of the Bitcoin law in early June, El Salvador had many plans for its new national currency.
Indeed, it was expected that salaries would be paid in Bitcoin and that each inhabitant would receive a little BTC. Above all, El Salvador had plans to launch a national stablecoin. Ambitious projects that could go unheeded after President Bukele’s announcement.
Only the 200 BTC distributors still seem relevant. Will they be used by the population? Case to be followed carefully since El Salvador is a real laboratory for Bitcoin as a real legal tender for the entire population.
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About the author: Benjamin Allouch
Lawyer specializing in digital law and personal data. He quickly became interested in bitcoin and blockchain technology, and founded the blog bitcoin-blockchain.fr. He is interested in the emergence of blockchain law and the legal consequences of this technology.
All articles by Benjamin Allouch.