In a recorded announcement played today at the Bitcoin 2021 conference, the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, announced that the country’s government would declare bitcoin as legal tender.
"Next week I will send to congress a bill that will make bitcoin a legal tender,” he said.
The presentation was hosted by Jack Mallers, founder of Lightning Network payments platform Strike, who has been working with Bukele to determine the logistics of this historic move.
"Over 70% of the active population of El Salvador doesn't have a bank account. They're not in the financial system,” Mallers said. "They asked me to help write a plan and that they viewed bitcoin as a world-class currency and that we needed to put together a Bitcoin plan to help these people.”
In declaring bitcoin legal tender, El Salvador has become the first country to onboard to a non-fiat currency. Because bitcoin is issued programmatically and does not fall under the control of any third party or central bank, El Salvador is now uniquely positioned to take advantage of Bitcoin’s unique properties, particularly as a store of value that is provably scarce and natively digital.
According to Mallers, the country is now working with Bitcoin businesses and platforms to determine logistical solutions for the move.
Mallers said he would provide an open-source guide to the process called Bitcoin For Countries.
El Salvador is already home to one of the world’s most bitcoin-forward communities in El Zonte, which is home to the Bitcoin Beach project that has created a circular BTC economy there. Bitcoin Beach also sponsors the country’s national surf teams and is working to build a surf and community center in honor of one of its members.