In just over a month since Bitcoin became legal tender in El Salvador, almost twice as many Salvadorans have a Chivo wallet than a bank account.
In his latest post on the October 3 rollout of Chivo, President Bukele said 3 million Salvadorans are using the wallet; this corresponds to 46% of the population.
By comparison, 2017 data shows that 29% of Salvadorans had a bank account. Funnily enough, according to Statista, this fell from 35% in 2014.
At this early stage, this would suggest that the Bitcoin experiment in El Salvador is on the right track. With public opposition to it, people are questioning President Bukele’s motivations for moving it forward.
Are the people for or against bitcoin?
Despite the international outcry and public protests, President Bukele has remained steadfast in his support for Bitcoin.
Salvadorans opposed to the idea say Bitcoin favors well-resourced speculators. But when it comes to using it as a currency, they claim that extreme volatility means normal people lose.
Additionally, critics point out the privacy implications of using chivo. They express concern that the wallet requires users to consent to microphone and contact access.
With some polls saying that two-thirds of Salvadorans oppose the Bitcoin law, economist Ricardo Castaneda summed up the situation by saying that people cannot appreciate President Bukele’s motivation to continue down this path despite the opposition.
“Bitcoin could be a distraction, but given the decision to move the plan forward despite popular opposition and expert advice, it could also be an important pillar of Bukele’s political project.”
Regardless of the narrative, however, there are some indications that Salvadorans are embracing change.
Last week, President Bukele tweeted that Chivo wallet users are converting to Bitcoin and holding $ BTC at a 4: 1 ratio.
“Since yesterday, Salvadorans have been throwing in more cash (to buy #bitcoin) than what they made of the @chivowallet ATMs. And when we add wire transfers (almost $ 2 million a day), the incoming USD quadruples the outflow. “
Can we trust the numbers?
Still, even though more people have used the Chivo wallet than bank accounts, given the $ 30 incentive to download it, is it fair to say that Bitcoin is more popular than USD?
In other words, if local banks had a $ 30 incentive to open bank accounts, could we see a similar increase in people opening bank accounts?
In addition, local news outlets have reported cases of identity fraud related to the Chivo wallet. El Mundo says some Salvadorans tried to download Chivo only to find that their details had already been registered and the $ 30 bonus claimed.
Not only does this ridicule Chivo’s security, but it also suggests that wallet use is overrated.
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