Business & Economy

Cryptocurrency makes up just 1.9 pct. of remittances in El Salvador

San Salvador, May 25 (EFE).- More than eight months after El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as a legal tender, the country has received some $96.3 million via cryptocurrency wallets but it has not become a major method for citizens living and working abroad to send remittances to their local relatives.

The Salvadoran government had emphasized that one of the key advantages of using Bitcoin and the government wallet to send remittances back home would be that there would be no commissions.

“Our people pay $400 million per year in commissions for remittances. Just that savings would be an enormous benefit for our people – or at least for anyone who wants it. It’s also an advantage not to have to carry cash around. Safer and more practical,” said President Nayib Bukele on Aug. 22, 2021.

Figures from the Central Reserve Bank (BCR) show that between September 2021 and April 2022 $96.3 million entered the country via “digital cryptocurrency wallets.”

That figure, however, represents only 1.9 percent of the $5.072 billion in remittances that came into the country in the eight months since the Bitcoin Law went into effect.

During the first month $2.64 million in remittances came in and in October that figure jumped to $29.68 million, but that was the highest monthly total registered during the eight-month period.

In November and December, Bitcoin remittances were $12.27 million and $12.37 million, respectively, but in January 2022 the figure fell to $10.6 million while in February it was $9.39 million.

March and April saw Bitcoin remittances rise slightly to $9.83 million and $10.14 million, respectively.

State entities involved in the adoption of Bitcoin have been withholding information related to the use of public funds in the project.

In February, the BCR similarly held back information about the remittances received via the government’s Chivo Wallet, developed to promote the use of Bitcoin, according to a resolution to which EFE obtained access.

The central bank refused to reveal the quantity of remittances received between September 2021, when Bitcoin was officially adopted as a legal tender, and January 2022.

“Denying access to information related to ‘Remittance receipt figures for Sept. 2021 through Jan. 2022 via the Chivo Wallet’ conforms to the preexisting confidentiality classification,” the financial entity said upon responding to a request for access to public information.

EFE hs/sa/rrt/bp

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