Use of Bitcoin in El Salvador Will Be Non-Compulsory but Optional

The Finance Minister of El Salvador tells that the use of Bitcoin in the country will be that of an alternate currency. He says that people would not be required to make use of Bitcoin on a compulsory basis but instead, the user will be optional. However, the Minister’s understanding seems to be quite opposite to what the Bitcoin legal tender describes the use of Bitcoin and has caused great confusion within the country. The law specifically provides under clause 7 that every agent of the country’s economy will be required to accept Bitcoin as a payment mechanism.

It has been more than 2 months now that Bitcoin has been officially incorporated as national currency within the country of El-Salvador. The decision of incorporating Bitcoin as national currency was fully endorsed and backed by the country’s President, Nayib Bukele. However, the decision failed to attract the countrymen to accept Bitcoin as the national currency. More than 60% of the people living in El-Salvador are not willing to accept Bitcoin in the form of a “national currency”. However, the Government functionaries have directed every state economic agent to accept Bitcoin as a mode of payment.

Recently, the country’s Finance Minister, Alejandro Zelava, appeared on a television talk show where he commented about Bitcoin’s status in the country. He said that the use of Bitcoin in El-Salvador is totally an optional one. His comment was taken as if he was denying that the use of Bitcoin in El-Salvador is on a “compulsory” basis. He further suggested that the Bitcoin law does not make it an obligation upon the citizens to use Bitcoin. According to the Finance Minister, a person has the choice of whether he wants to use Bitcoin or not. Similarly, an agent has the free will whether to accept Bitcoin as payment. This created a fuss amongst the citizens as well as amongst the Government officials. The Finance Minister has been criticized that the Minister has misunderstood the Bitcoin legal tender.

The relevant law of Bitcoin, specifically clause 7 thereof, states that Bitcoin has the status of a national currency. The clause further clarifies that every state agent of the country is duty-bound to accept Bitcoin as a mode of payment. Denial of accepting Bitcoin would be in contravention of the law and illegal action that has legal consequences.

What the Finance Minister has revealed in a televised program totally negates the Bitcoin legal tender. The Finance Minister was then referred to the relevant clause of the law and confronted with its content. However, at that moment, the Minister must have realized his mistake and then asked the interviewer to ask him another question.

In any case once against Bitcoin is under criticism in El-Salvador because of an apparent mistake by a public functionary.