Money and Markets

El Salvador's bitcoin experiment hasn't gained traction as locals trust cash over crypto, survey says

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President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele
President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele
Rolan Barrientos/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images
  • A new survey found that most people in El Salvador are still using dollars even after bitcoin was made legal tender. 
  • Most "Chivo Wallet" downloads came as bitcoin was made legal tender last year, though almost no one has downloaded it in 2022.
  • The survey concluded that only 5% of all sales were done in bitcoin.
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A new survey found that bitcoin has not gained much traction in El Salvador, and most people are still using dollars even seven months after the cryptocurrency was made legal tender in the country. 

Despite the government's campaign for crypto adoption, led by millennial president and bitcoin bull Nayib Bukele, the experiment has yielded little, and the nation's digital wallet, "Chivo Wallet," has not seen widespread use. 

Most locals downloaded the app last September when El Salvador first authenticated bitcoin's use alongside the dollar, though the survey reported that virtually no one has been downloading Chivo in 2022. 

"The most important reason not to download the app, conditional on knowing about it, is that users prefer to use cash, which was followed by trust issues — respondents did not trust the system or Bitcoin itself," the authors of the survey wrote. 

The survey found that no citizens were using Chivo to pay taxes at a significant scale and that only 5% of all sales were conducted in bitcoin, while most were still done in dollars. 

After making it legal tender in September, Bukele has continued to double down on the world's largest cryptocurrency. 

Since last year, Bukele has launched a flurry of crypto moves, including a bitcoin bond and the world's first "bitcoin city" to be built next to a volcano. In November, he also said the country's bitcoin profits will be used to build 20 schools

The survey covered 1,800 households throughout El Salvador in February 2022.

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