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El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele in the Legislative Assembly building in San Salvador, El Salvador, last Tuesday. Photo: Camilo Freedman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele said Saturday he will send a bill to the Central American country's Congress next week to make bitcoin legal tender.

Why it matters: If the legislation is passed by lawmakers, El Salvador would become the first country to formally adopt the digital currency.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Jack Mallers, founder of the Lightning Network payments platform Strike, which is working with Bukele on the project, noted at the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami, Florida, Saturday: "Over 70% of the active population of El Salvador doesn't have a bank account. They're not in the financial system."

What they're saying: Bukele said in a video message to the conference that in the short term, formally adopting bitcoin "will generate jobs and help provide financial inclusion to thousands outside the formal economy."

The big picture: Over 2 million Salvadorans live outside the country and send home some $4 billion every year, with remittances making up about 20% of the country's GDP, per the BBC.

  • Bukele didn't go into details on how the policy would work. But he said it would be used alongside the U.S. dollar, which the nation has used as its official unit of currency since 2001.

Go deeper: U.S. plans crypto crackdown

Go deeper

El Salvador buys 400 bitcoin ahead of making it legal currency

President Nayib Bukele in the Legislative Assembly building in San Salvador, El Salvador, in June. Photo: Camilo Freedman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

El Salvador bought its first 400 bitcoins on Monday, and President Nayib Bukele pledged to buy "a lot more" ahead of adopting the cryptocurrency as legal tender.

Why it matters: El Salvador will become on Tuesday the first country to formally adopt bitcoin — marking the "biggest test" the digital currency has faced in its 12-year history, per Bloomberg.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Sep 8, 2021 - Economy & Business

El Salvador's bitcoin experiment has rocky start after sell-off

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

It was a rocky start: Bitcoin suffered a disorderly sell-off on Tuesday, alongside most other cryptocurrencies, to mark the day on which it officially became legal tender in El Salvador, along with the more widely accepted U.S. dollar.

Why it matters: While a 17% daily swing is far from unprecedented for bitcoin, it's not the kind of thing most citizens want from their currencies. Neither is having a payments mechanism that can be unplugged by the government at will.

52 mins ago - World

Blinken to visit Ukraine as Russia invasion threat looms

Blinken (R) with President Zelensky. Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/Pool via Getty

Secretary of State Antony Tony Blinken will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday as the country faces an ongoing threat of Russian invasion.

Driving the news: Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, as well as officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to discuss contingency planning. He'll then travel to Berlin to meet German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and attend a meeting of the "Transatlantic Quad" — France, Germany, the U.K. and U.S.