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Taking Stock of El Salvador’s Bitcoin Gamble at the One-Year Mark

A window into where things stand a year after the country became the first in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender.

A customer pays with Bitcoin at a cellphone accessories shop in San Salvador.

A customer pays with Bitcoin at a cellphone accessories shop in San Salvador.

Photographer: Camilo Freedman/Bloomberg
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It’s been one year since El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as legal tender. In September 2021, the Central American nation forged its own path as the first in the world to make the cryptocurrency an official part of its economy. According to tweets and statements from President Nayib Bukele, the government has bought more than 2,000 Bitcoin so far. 

So what’s the problem? Well, many of those purchases were at or near market highs. Price declines mean that, at least on paper, El Salvador has lost more than half the value of those purchases so far. And surveys of both consumers and businesses show most people in the country just aren’t using Bitcoin. Nonetheless, Bukele and government officials are adamant that the nation’s strategy has expanded financial services to a larger segment of the population and encouraged tourism. What’s the real story of Bitcoin in El Salvador?  Bloomberg reporter Mike McDonald joins this episode for more.