First Country Makes Bitcoin Legal Tender

'Nobody can refuse payment,' says El Salvador President Nayib Bukele
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 9, 2021 11:55 AM CDT
First Country Makes Bitcoin Legal Tender
El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele delivers his annual address to the nation before Congress, in San Salvador, El Salvador, Tuesday, June 1, 2021.   (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)

El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly has approved legislation making the cryptocurrency Bitcoin legal tender in the country, the first country to do so, just days after President Nayib Bukele made the proposal at a Bitcoin conference. The digital currency can be used in any transaction and any business will have to accept payment in Bitcoin, with the exception of those lacking the technology to do so, the AP reports. The US dollar will also continue to be El Salvador’s currency and no one will be forced to pay in Bitcoin, according to the legislation approved late Tuesday. The exchange rate between the two currencies will be established by the market and all prices will be able to be expressed in Bitcoin—though for accounting purposes, the dollar will continue to be the currency of reference.

"Every restaurant, every barber shop, every bank ... everything can be paid in US dollars or Bitcoin and nobody can refuse payment," Bukele said in an hour-long social media hangout with thousands of US-based Bitcoiners as the bill was being debated Tuesday night in El Salvador’s congress. The government will promote training for people to be able to carry out transactions using Bitcoin. Additionally, Bukele said that anyone who invests three Bitcoin—currently about $105,000—in El Salvador will be entitled to permanent residency. Opposition lawmaker Rodrigo Ávila of the conservative Arena party complained that the legislation was not sufficiently discussed by the Legislative Assembly before passage. There was no testimony from economic or cybercrime experts.

(More bitcoin stories.)

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