'Dictator' Bukele 'Buys the Bitcoin Dip' as 1.1M Users Flock to Chivo Wallet
The El Salvador President Nayib Bukele claims that the state-run Chivo bitcoin (BTC) wallet and app now has 1.1m users, or 17% of the country's population – despite the fact that the app is still yet to be made available to “65% of the phone models” used in the nation. Bukele also announced that with BTC prices slumping over the weekend, his government had “bought the dip.”
The government has highly incentivized the use of the Chivo app – although it claims that Chivo use is optional – by giving those who download it in El Salvador USD 30 worth of BTC as a golden hello.
Bukele claimed that the Chivo app and his BTC adoption plans were already proving to be a success, writing on Twitter:
“It looks that we will be able to bank more people in the space of month than [previous governments] did in 40 years with the nationalization and privatization of traditional banks.”
Bukele also added that his government had bought an additional BTC 150, meaning that the El Salvador Treasury now owns BTC 700 (USD 32m).
The author Mark Jeffrey claimed that the latest BTC buy was proof that the nation was “punching above its weight yet again.”
Despite no shortage of criticism, it appears that Chivo rollouts are continuing. The latest data from CoinATMRadar indicates that 231 Chivo ATMs are now operational, with 31 of these located in the United States. Bukele has previously claimed that this number is in fact higher – with 50 machines in the USA.
But technical issues appear to be persisting. A mobile network named Digicel claimed its SMS services went down for a minute on September 19 due to “high demand” for Chivo app downloads.
Bukele conceded that the “crash of an SMS carrier caused an error in 28,000 requests for Chivo registration” – causing an hour worth of issues. He stated that as a result, 28,000 new users had not received their USD 30 worth of BTC – but added that his technical team would ensure they receive the funds soon.
The President wrote off the incident as a minor hiccup, claiming that the error was “a mistake by the telephone company.”
He reiterated his claims that the app was “working at 100%,” but added:
“It is almost impossible to have 300,000 new registrations per day and not have some temporary incidents.”
Meanwhile, the Salvadoran media – deeply skeptical on all things BTC and Bukele-related – is reporting further wrinkles with the app. La Prensa Gráfica quoted Ricardo Castaneda, an economist at the Central American Institute for Fiscal Studies (ICEFI), as stating that claims that Chivo allowed commission-free transfers were actually a “lie.”
He claimed that commission-free transfers were a “fallacy,” as the cost of the transfers were instead being paid for using public funds – meaning that the “entire population” was covering the cost of “commission-free” Chivo transactions.
The media has joined opposition parties in claiming that Bukele has “taken pages out of the dictatorial playbook” with his recent actions, which have seen his government replace court officials and alter the constitution – allowing him to run for re-election in 2024.
And Bukele appears to have either agreed with their assessment of him or sought to mock them – by updating his Twitter bio to read “Dictator of El Salvador.”
Observers reacted with incredulity.
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