Analysis: Scepticism Grows in El Salvador Over Pioneering Bitcoin Gamble
By Mat Youkee
Litha María de Los Angeles slaps two cheese-filled pupusas – the El Salvadoran cornmeal flatbread – on the griddle. With a camera click on the QR code, she receives her payment: four hundred-thousandths of a Bitcoin. Then, as the rain pelts the corrugated iron roof and a gust of wind lifts the blue plastic table cloths, the power cuts out.
A tumultuous few weeks awaits El Salvador as it prepares to become the first country to adopt Bitcoin, the world’s most popular decentralised digital currency, as legal tender on 7 September. With that deadline looming, a host of challenges – technological, financial and criminal – threaten to sink the plan of the president, Nayib Bukele, to ride the Central American economy out of its current choppy waters on the back of a cryptocurrency wave.