El Salvador’s First Day Under Bitcoin Law, First-Hand Testimony + Video


We received the statistics and read the charts, but… what was El Salvador’s first day under Bitcoin law really like? Let’s follow Bart Mol, Dutch national and host of the Satoshi Radio Podcast, on a wild ride between San Salvador and El Zonte. He’ll show us the good, the bad, and the ugly. No one is safe from this first-hand report, myths will fall and morale will rise.

Related Reading | Lightning Network 101: How And Why It Works

Are you ready for this?

The story starts with a historic newspaper in front of El Salvador’s Central Bank…

Under Bitcoin Law: “We Are Witnessing History”

The newspaper is a constant presence throughout Bart’s thread. It’s sold out everywhere. Somebody in San Salvador knew how important this moment in history was. Later on in the thread, Bart tried to buy a copy of the newspaper from an old man that was reading it and the man refused his offer. “He told us that “people need to learn and understand” about bitcoin,” though.

The first big adventure was covering the anti-Bitcoin protests. A big subject for traditional media. A big joke for the pro-Bitcoin activists on Twitter. Were they as small as this birds-eye-view picture suggests? Bart’s first-hand witness account tells another story.

They were 150 people at first but, as the day advanced, other groups joined. Then, they all started “some kind of march to the big square.” The journalist in Bart took over and tried to do some digging. “Talked to one of the organizers. The protest is not only against bitcoin, but also against the regime. He told me that “the law is implemented to fast and nobody needs it.” If you only knew, organizer. If you only knew.

The poet in Bart takes over as he describes the situation. “I wouldn’t say it is the biggest protest that I’ve ever seen, but it is not insignificant either.” So, both sides of the media were lying to us. What do you know? Then, the police put drones in the air to monitor the crowd, but they were not necessary. “March ended at the “Palacio Legislativo”. We will go back to the center to check out the other side. Goal of the day: make a payment with my own Lightning node.” 

The Other Side: Chivo Problems

The first Chivo ATM they encountered wasn’t working. It was inside a coffee store. “The owner told us that there were some problems with the app and the ATM. Mostly connectivity issues with other wallets.” 

Life under Bitcoin law is not as easy as it seems. There are lines outside the Chivo cashpoints and the ATM is out of coins. When they do find a functional ATM, it appears that it only works with the Chivo Wallet. “NO LIGHTNING SUPPORT. That was a disappointment.” Luckily for the El Salvador Bitcoin experiment, they might be wrong about that. What they’re not wrong about is this: 

Bart sells $20 worth of BTC and the ATM doesn’t give him the money. Then, a friend buys $20 worth of BTC and the system takes a while to send it to him, but it eventually arrives. However, “It looks like Chivo deducted the on chain fees from his buy.” According to President Bukele, under Bitcoin law, all transactions using the app are supposed to be commission-free. “The people however are very nice and helpful. They told us that since it is the first day the application and ATM has some difficulties.

BTC price chart for 09/08/2021 on Binance | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com

The Other Side: Lightning Payments

Then, things took a turn for the best. Bart is able to accomplish his “Goal of the day: make a payment with my own Lightning node.” Life under Bitcoin law is good.

And then, they buy a hamburger in some little unknown restaurant and show us the technology that the restaurant is working with. “The solution was clearly still in development UX wise,” but it works. For the transaction, they pay “6 sats. $0,003. Let that sink in.” To perform it, they used a “node that is 9.500 km away.” 

Then, they go to a little unknown coffee house and, finally, make a payment using the Chivo wallet’s Lightning Network capabilities. “Guys this is the future. Hyped af right now.” This is life under Bitcoin law.

Under Bitcoin Law: The Epilogue

After that full day of activities, Bart and company went to a Bitcoin meetup. In the middle of the night, he asked himself the big question. The next day, they went to El Zonte for a Bitcoin day party. “Made it back safely to El Zonte. Closing this thread. Thanks all for the amazing support. It truly was a historical day. ” It seems like we all should have gone to El Salvador to bear witness.

Related Reading | News From El Salvador, Early September: TV Spot, Chivo Leaks, And BTC Smiles

Anyway, let’s close this with a related and relevant poll. How long until Bitcoin becomes the global reserve currency?

Featured Image: Bitcoin Day paper, photo by Bart Mol | Charts by TradingView





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