El Salvador's move to adopt Bitcoin sparks protests

The country is the first to officially adopt Bitcoin as legal tender.

Carrie Mihalcik Managing Editor / News
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Salvadorans protest against the Bitcoin Law

Salvadorans protesting against the Bitcoin Law in San Salvador on Sept. 15.

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Thousands of people reportedly gathered in the capital of El Salvador on Wednesday to protest the country's adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender as well as moves by President Nayib Bukele. 

El Salvador officially adopted Bitcoin as legal tender last week, making it the first country to do so. Officials also rolled out Chivo, a state-sponsored Bitcoin wallet, but the system has reportedly been down multiple times. 

See also: El Salvador and Bitcoin: Everything you need to know

On Wednesday, protesters marched in San Salvador carrying signs that read "we were defrauded by Bitcoin" and "no to dictatorship," according to Bloomberg. The protesters were largely peaceful, according to media reports, though some vandalized newly installed Chivo ATMs, which handle Bitcoin transactions.

The Bitcoin Law, which was passed in June, makes the cryptocurrency legal tender in the country alongside the US dollar. Supporters say it could give the country more economic autonomy and lower the cost of remittance payments, which make up 24% of El Salvador's GDP, according to data from the World Bank

But the move comes with risks, in part due to the volatility of Bitcoin. On Sept. 7, the first day of El Salvador's rollout, Bitcoin's value plunged more than 10% in the morning before recovering as the day continued.