El Salvador – the first country to make Bitcoin legal tender – is now home to a Bitcoin education center. It aims to boost familiarity with the technology and benefits of cryptocurrency among a population still scratching their heads over it.
Educating El Salvador
The new center has been launched by Paxful – a peer-to-peer Bitcoin marketplace – under the name “La Casa Del Bitcoin”. It will provide “free and accessible learning opportunities” surrounding Bitcoin while helping the population learn its use-cases through various events and meetups.
While the Bitcoin community was ecstatic over El Salvador’s Bitcoin law announced in June, the Salvadoran population was not. Large anti-Bukele demonstrations took place in the months leading up to the law’s implementation, largely opposing Bitcoin’s use as a currency.
This opposition appears fueled by a lack of education around Bitcoin. A survey last year showed that while 7 out of 10 Salvadorans opposed the law, 9 out of 10 also had a poor or non-existent understanding of the asset.
Yet the cryptocurrency’s benefits could prove incredibly strong. For example, President Nayib Bukele estimates that the country could save $400 million by using Bitcoin instead of Western Union for US remittance payments.
About 70% of the population receives remittances, which are responsible for nearly a quarter of El Salvador’s GDP. In fact, an MP from Tonga – another remittance-dependent nation – wants to make the cryptocurrency legal tender for the same reason.
“It’s no secret that Bitcoin is shaping the future of finance in El Salvador and beyond,” said Ray Youssef, co-founder, and CEO of Paxful. “Education continues to be a key driver of global Bitcoin adoption and this new center represents its importance to the creation of an inclusive financial system.”
A Focus On Small Business
Though the Bitcoin law’s text suggested that Bitcoin acceptance by businesses is mandatory, only a small number of Salvadoran shops accept it in practice. Alexandra Dumitru – a cryptocurrency consultant living in El Salvador – says the practice is still mostly reserved for Starbucks, McDonald’s, and other large companies “that have tech teams to implement it.”
In response, Paxful’s center will be focused more strongly on helping small merchants and businesses plug into the network.
Last month, the IMF called on El Salvador to remove Bitcoin as legal tender, citing potential threats to economic stability. Nevertheless, it also admits that the nation has seen a strong post-pandemic economic recovery despite the Bitcoin law.