El Salvador: One Year Of Bitcoin And Counting

The on-the-ground projects of El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption show how the citizens of the country seek financial education.

This is an opinion editorial by Renata Rodrigues, global community and education lead at Paxful.

El Salvador made history last year when the country adopted Bitcoin as legal tender. The decision gave legitimacy to what many of us have known for a long time—that Bitcoin is a permissionless technology that was built for the masses. While this milestone was a huge step forward for the country, many knew it couldn’t succeed without education. And with a population of over six million people, tackling this problem would be a huge undertaking. That’s why the efforts of organizations like Bitcoin Beach and Mi Primer Bitcoin have been crucial to adoption in the region, and why Paxful has dedicated so much of our time on the ground — being the first international company to arrive with a Bitcoin education program for the whole country starting a year ago.

Launching La Casa del Bitcoin earlier this year, we had a front row seat to the action. It’s clear that Salvadorans are open to change and eager to learn about how Bitcoin can change their life. Within the country, we’ve educated over 4,000 people and 32 companies and government institutions, and hosted over 350 workshops for both beginner and seasoned Bitcoiners. Here’s what we learned:

● Bitcoin is for everyone. Bitcoin has no bounds and it doesn’t discriminate. Take Alejandro for example. Collecting his pension, Alejandro found himself worrying about his future. Like so many others, he was skeptical about Bitcoin, but was interested in learning about the ways he could use it to his advantage. After attending a number of classes at La Casa del Bitcoin, he now uses Bitcoin as an investment tool to save for his future.

● Bitcoin can open doors. With the new law, the people of El Salvador could use Bitcoin to pay for goods and services, easily remit money with friends and relatives abroad, and finally achieve financial freedom. Take La Casa del Bitcoin — which provides free and accessible learning opportunities around Bitcoin to build financial inclusion. The center is helping to drive the next wave of Bitcoin mass adoption while providing small merchants and local businesses with the tools they need to connect with customers and expand their income.

● Bitcoin can help communities. In developing nations, Bitcoin has the power to bridge the financial gap and connect the unbanked to the global economy. Initiatives like Bitcoin Beach have shown the world that we can build sustainable communities using Bitcoin — and most importantly that it can work. And that’s why what the Built With Bitcoin Foundation (BWB) is doing all around the world is so important. Building schools and communities with Bitcoin donations, BWB has shown how Bitcoin can be used for social good. Earlier this year, Bitcoin Magazine helped to fund the repairs of a school and fund a boat on a remote island in El Salvador called Isla Tasajera. Thanks to Bitcoin, the community can provide their children with a better education and find creative ways to build a stronger financial future.

When I arrived in El Salvador last year to run the Lightning Diaries, I discovered that a lot of small businesses in rural areas were already taking Bitcoin. I remember visiting Santa Ana, a small and vibrant town, and being amazed by the hand written “accepting bitcoin” signs. Salvadorans are known as “bisneros,” which is an adaptation of “entrepreneur” — it’s no surprise they are discovering how to conquer global entrepreneurship through Bitcoin.

This is a guest post by Renata Rodrigues. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.

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