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El Salvador is Adopting Bitcoin

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A little over one year after the President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, made the historic move to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, thousands flocked to the country for the second annual Adopting Bitcoin conference. 

With over 1,000 conference attendees, Adopting Bitcoin was an opportunity for many westerners who had never visited the Central American country to make the pilgrimage to “Bitcoin Country.”

In order to make the conference accessible for Salvadorans, tickets for locals were only $21, with sponsorships from Galoy Money and Bitfinex making these subsidized tickets possible. Proceeds from standard price ticket sales will be donated to fund Bitcoin education efforts in El Salvador.

“This was one of the most high-signal conferences I've ever attended,” said Bitcoin videographer and producer, @plebmusic.

Because getting to El Salvador requires a significant time commitment, it appears that people who do not truly live the Bitcoin ethos are weeded out (but trust me they are missing out on a beautiful place - you should come and visit). Every person I've met during the conference genuinely wants to make the world a better place. There has been no discussion of price or other shitcoins. Simply put, pure Bitcoin signal.

While this was a Bitcoin-only conference, there was certainly plenty of talk of the recent FTX implosion, with multiple speakers using it as a cautionary tale and an opportunity to educate about Bitcoin and self-custody.

Speakers ranged from Milena Mayorga, Ambassador of El Salvador to the United States of America, to Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, founders of El Zonte capital, to JAN3 CSO Prince Filip of Serbia and Yugoslavia, to 11 year old Samantha (@SamTheBTCKid), who spoke about growing up as a Bitcoiner while her father, @Ben_deWaal, proudly watched on stage.

One of the many conference highlights was BTC Times’ own Carla (AKA @thecryptoc0up1einterviewing Fran Finney, beloved wife of the late cypherpunk Hal Finney, who received the first ever Bitcoin transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto.

The two-day lineup of speeches, presentations and panels covered a wide range of topics across two main stages: the Galoy Money Dev Stage and the Bitfinex Econ Stage.

“Whatever happens, you have your Bitcoin.” – Paolo Ardoino (CTO Bitfinex, CTO Tether, CSO Holepunch)

Reflecting on his experience at Adopting Bitcoin, journalist and Bitcoin educator, Joe Nakamoto (@JoeNakamoto), said:

Looking back on the conference, it’s clear the enormous progress El Salvador has made in terms of “adopting” magic internet money, as well as the long road ahead. The conference was a giant pupusa filled with opportunities to learn about, tinker with and get stuck into this new monetary technology. Crucially, however, it was easy to spend Sats around the conference, at the hotel and in food courts. I’m aware that organizers offered generously discounted tickets to locals; it was encouraging to see and interact with those who’ve been touched by Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision for humanity.

In addition to the main conference days in San Salvador on Tuesday and Wednesday, there were numerous satellite events, concluding with a trip to El Zonte, AKA Bitcoin Beach, on Thursday. 

Bitcoin Beach also hosted its first ever "MEAT-up" at Palo Verde Hotel, which included a live auction to benefit Bitcoin Beach and other Bitcoin communities around the world:

Before, during and after the conference, many speakers took time to visit local Bitcoin education projects and donate their time (or Bitcoin) to support organizations like Mi Primer Bitcoin and Bitcoin Beach

Bitcoin Beach and El Salvador have inspired numerous other grassroots Bitcoin initiatives around the world to build circular economies in developing countries. Founders of Bitcoin Ekasi (South Africa), Bitcoin Jungle (Costa Rica), Bitcoin Lake (Guatemala), and Bitcoin Island (Philippines) were all in attendance and spoke about their projects.

“This project has been eye-opening for me at a personal level. For years I’ve been talking about Bitcoin… When I started this project, that was the first time I realized people adopted [Bitcoin] because it’s the better option… They adopted for practical reasons.” – Bitcoin Ekasi (@BitcoinEkasi)

El Salvador’s bold move to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender sprung from the local, community-driven efforts at Bitcoin Beach. It’s a great example of how open source code and grassroots organizing can drive positive change and progress. 

To complement the bottom-up approach, companies like JAN3 are working on the top-down angle:

“It’s very important that we encourage nation states to break out of the IMF’s hold.” – Samson Mow (@Excellion), CEO of JAN3

Longtime fiat-risk-manager-turned-Bitcoiner, Greg Foss (@FossGregfoss) made the prediction: "Every single institutional product in the United States will have a Bitcoin allocation."

It’s easy for western pundits and mainstream media corporations to dismiss El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption, especially when they’ve never stepped foot in the country. Most of the legacy media seemed ready to declare it a failure before it even started.

Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, founders of El Zonte Capital, have been vocal supporters of Bitcoin as a tool for peace and of President Bukele for adopting it in El Salvador:

“Bitcoin monetizes peace and love. Fiat monetizes war and violence.” – Max Keiser

“The rebrand is the greatest rebrand in history. President Nayib Bukele said Bitcoin is the best marketing tool... We don't need a marketing campaign because Bitcoin plus Bukele is the greatest marketing campaign in history." – Stacy Herbert

It would behoove those in the so-called “developed world” to check their financial privilege, and approach El Salvador with an open mind. Tourism is up, GDP is up, crime is down, businesses are investing, and native Salvadorans are coming home.

Gerson Martinez (@gersonmartinez) summarized this beautifully:

We, along with our parents, have a hope about the future of El Salvador that we’ve never experienced in our lifetimes… Ahead of us lies a new era of life, liberty, peace and prosperity.

Echoing Gerson’s sentiment, Bitcoin Beach Community Leader, Roman Martinez (@romanmartinezc), noted:

People were not dreaming—everyone was dreaming to *leave* the country… People say fight for your dreams, but no one teaches you how to do it... When you have a collective dream, it’s beautiful. Bitcoin is that dream that is bringing progress and hope.

Not only is the Salvadoran diaspora returning home, but foreigners are actively moving to the  country. Nicki and James (@njelsalvador) bought one-way tickets to El Salvador and never looked back. Recently, they received their temporary residence visas and are officially no longer tourists:

Bitcoiners have long dreamed of the day a country would adopt Bitcoin. New Zealand pushed us and El Salvador pulled us. Personal sovereignty and being on the frontier of financial revolution looked like an adventure of a lifetime. Once we arrived and started using Bitcoin as legal tender we realized how fun and powerful the Lightning Network is. Seeing the hope in small and medium sized business owners who are adopting the new payment network and receiving new business from early adopters is inspiring. Connecting with the like minded people that are here to be part of this great adoption makes every moment of the decision worth it, with no regrets. The future is bright and full of hope.

There is still work to be done, especially around education, but there is a need for Bitcoin education everywhere. Adopting Bitcoin showcased some of the best minds in the Bitcoin space actively working toward a bright orange future for El Salvador and for the world. 

"We need to work to educate the world about Bitcoin... El Salvador is different because of Bitcoin and President Nayib Bukele.” – Milena Mayorga (@MilenaMayorga), Ambassador of El Salvador to the United States of America.

El Salvador is an incredible country. But don’t take my word for it, visit El Salvador and see for yourself.

You can watch the recording of the conference live stream on Adopting Bitcoin’s YouTube Channel.
If you want to purchase tickets for next year’s Adopting Bitcoin in El Salvador, visit https://pretix.eu/galoy/ab23/

Adopting Bitcoin was sponsored by Galoy Money, creators of the Bitcoin Beach Wallet, and Bitfinex.

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written by

Managing Director

The BTC Times
Walker is the Managing Director of BTC Times, you can find him on Twitter: @WalkerAmerica

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