The Central American country El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele in a national address stated that the recently passed law making bitcoin a legal tender will take effect on September 7.
Earlier this month, the lawmakers had approved Mr. Bukele’s proposal to embrace the cryptocurrency, making El Salvador the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender.
Mr. Bukele has touted the cryptocurrency’s potential as a remittance currency for Salvadorans overseas. By making the cryptocurrency’s use discretionary nobody will receive Bitcoin if they don’t want it, “if someone receives a payment in Bitcoin, they can choose to automatically receive it in dollars,” the President added.
Meanwhile, salaries and pensions will continue to be paid in US dollars, said Mr. Bukele, without specifying if that included salaries paid to state workers and private sector employees.
Last day, the US-based Digital Currency and Bitcoin Company Athena Bitcoin has revealed its plans to invest over $1 million to install cryptocurrency ATMs in El Salvador, especially where residents receive remittances from abroad.
According to Athena Bitcoin’s website, one can use their ATMs to buy bitcoins or sell them for cash. The firm expects to gradually install nearly 1,500 ATMs, hire staff and open an office to carry out operations in El Salvador.
“El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele presented us with a tough challenge of 1,500 ATMs. We will go for that but in phases. We are a private company and we want to ensure that our development in the country is sustainable,” said the firm’s director for Latin America Matias Goldenhorn.
Initially, Athena is planning to bring dozens of machines and test what the business model is like in El Salvador, which will probably be different than in the US, according to Mr. Goldenhorn’s statement.
A year ago Athena installed its first cryptocurrency ATM in El Salvador’s El Zonte beach as part of an experiment called Bitcoin Beach, aimed at making the town one of the world’s first bitcoin economies.
The World Bank has said it cannot assist El Salvador’s bitcoin implementation given environmental and transparency drawbacks, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it saw “macroeconomic, financial and legal issues” with the country’s adoption of the cryptocurrency.