In August of last year, MicroStrategy set off what resembles a movement of institutions to get skin into the Bitcoin game. After Michael Saylor's firm bought its first $250 million worth of bitcoin, it took mere months for various public companies to follow suit; soon, even banks began getting more serious about Bitcoin, and a little less than a year later, Bitcoin has acquired a new image on the global stage: that of a viable store of value on par with gold.
While Saylor can't take credit for the overall growth of the industry surrounding Bitcoin, he has played an important role in the last year: that of the first-mover that many looked towards from their boardrooms as they added Bitcoin to the agenda, often for the first time.
And in the last few days, some have noted a pattern very similar to what happened after MicroStrategy created a precedent for institutional bitcoin buyers — on a national scale this time.
Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele's announcement of a bill seeking to make Bitcoin legal tender in El Salvador resounded across the world: among bitcoiners, it was met with excitement and encouragement — to be expected, as many Bitcoin proponents have long called for Bitcoin to become legal tender and a reserve currency. Yet many others reacted with scepticism and predicted that the country could get in trouble with the International Monetary Fund or with trade partners. Other criticism has targeted Bitcoin's volatility, calling it "unsuitable" as a medium of exchange.
Across the board, there are many opinions, but all of them are underscored by the simple reality that nobody really knows what will happen — because nobody has done it before.
With El Salvador going where no country has gone, all eyes are on the Central American nation. And already, Bukele's move seems to be motivating others to follow.
A mere day after news broke of El Salvador's Bitcoin strategy, Paraguayan Congressman Carlitos Rejala posted a laser-eyed statement on Twitter:
As I was saying a long time ago, our country needs to advance hand in hand with the next generation. The moment has come, our moment. This week, we will start an important project to innovate Paraguay in front of the world!
The addition of a #BTC and #PayPal hashtag has many people anticipating a Bitcoin payments project from the South American nation.
Yet it doesn't stop there.
On the same day, Fabio Ostermann, leader of the New Party, a libertarian party in Brazil, put on laser eyes as well, followed by Gilson Marques, a member of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies.
A few hours later, Gabriel Silva, a Congressman in The National Assembly of Panama, took to Twitter as well, commenting on the developments in El Salvador, "this is important. And Panama cannot be left behind. If we want to be a true hub for technology and entrepreneurship, we have to support cryptocurrencies."
Silva announced he would be preparing a proposal to present to the Assembly and invited the public to give input.
The latest to show his support for Bitcoin is Francisco Sánchez, a member of the Chamber of Deputies of Argentina:
While the only clear statement of action so far has come from El Salvador, some have begun predicting an economic shift should Central and South America adopt the asset one way or another.
"If all these countries end up embracing #Bitcoin, the geopolitical ramifications over the next 10 years will be massive. It will be a seismic shift in economic power to South America," Blockstream CSO Samson Mow commented on the developments.