El Salvador became the world’s first country to accept bitcoin as legal tender on Tuesday (Sept. 7) and marked the occasion by purchasing about $21 million of the digital currency, President Nayib Bukele said on Twitter.
In several tweets, Bukele said that the country purchased 400 bitcoin on Monday (Sept. 6). The purchases were announced across several tweets a few hours apart. Based on prices at the time of the tweets, the buys added up to about $20.9 million, CNBC reported.
“Our brokers will be buying a lot more as the deadline approaches,” he tweeted.
Bitcoin rose following the president’s tweets, hitting $52,583.83 at half past midnight on Tuesday (Sept. 7), according to Coinbase data. By 5:30 a.m., the price was $51, 270.30.
Bitcoin will be accepted like cash and work in conjunction with the U.S. dollar. Although a significant achievement for the country, the move hasn’t been met with open arms by the country’s citizens.
An August poll by the Central American University showed that 70 percent want the new law repealed, 90 percent said they didn’t fully understand crypto and 80 percent indicated they had little or no confidence in bitcoin.
Upon announcing the new law in June, the president said he expected that adopting bitcoin as legal currency would help boost job creation and bring about financial inclusion. The country also launched the digital wallet Chivo with $30 for each resident who downloaded it.
The poll also showed, however, that 65 percent respondents had no interest in the wallet, even for $30 in bitcoin.
The Congress in El Salvador introduced new legislation last week to establish a $150 million fund that would help people easily convert bitcoin to U.S. dollars, CNBC reported.
Chainalysis Chief Economist Philip Gradwell told CNBC that El Salvador is an “early experiment” since bitcoin, by its design, isn’t meant “to be a means of exchange.”
“I think the main use in El Salvador is really going to be around remittances and people using it to save some wealth and really perhaps just to be some competition to the dollar in the country.”