As El Salvador rolled out systems to support Bitcoin as legal tender, the citizens have not taken it well. More than 1,000 people marched in the country’s capital on Tuesday to protest the move, amid a bumpy initial rollout.
The protesters demonstrated in front of the El Salvador Supreme Court, burning a tire and setting off fireworks. The government retaliated by deploying heavily militarised police to the site of the protest, Reuters reported.
"This is a currency that's not going to work for pupusa (traditional El Salvadorian corn-based food) vendors, bus drivers, or shopkeepers. This is a currency that's ideal for big investors who want to speculate with their economic resources," Reuters quoted one of the protestors as saying.
El Salvador on Tuesday bought 400 Bitcoins in preparation to adopt the cryptocurrency as legal tender, President Nayib Bukele said in a Twitter post. The buy is valued at about $20 million at current prices. The country plans to buy “a lot more” of the coins, Bukele said in a separate post.
"Our brokers will be buying a lot more as the deadline approaches," Bukele said on Twitter. The country had in June adopted a law to make Bitcoin legal tender.
El Salvador is the first country to adopt Bitcoin as its legal tender. According to Bloomberg businesses will be required to accept the cryptocurrency in exchange for goods and services and even the government will accept it for tax payments.
The brain behind the move to make Bitcoin the legal tender is the country's 40-year old president, who has spoken about the move drawing more people into the financial system. He adds that adopting the cryptocurrency will make it cheaper to send remittances.
Experts are closely watching the move. "This is brave new world stuff," said Garrick Hileman, head of research for the Miami-based Blockchain.com, according to Bloomberg. He added that there will be a lot of learning from the decision.