El Salvador Buys 400 Bitcoins as the Cryptocurrency Becomes Legal Tender

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El Salvador today became the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender, which means it can be used for everything from purchasing goods to paying taxes. And it bought 400 BTC yesterday to help its citizens get started with the cryptocurrency.

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele announced on Monday that his government had purchased 200 BTC ahead of the so-called Bitcoin Law going into effect. Less than four hours later he announced the government's purchase of another 200 BTC.

The value of BTC fluctuated between those announcements, but Coinbase data puts it around $52,000 per coin, which means El Salvador spent approximately $20.8 million on Bitcoin in the hours leading up to its plan to formally adopt the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin's value enjoyed a slight hike after the news—Coinbase data shows it peaking at $52,945 shortly before El Salvador's Bitcoin Law went into effect. But the cryptocurrency's price has dropped to roughly $50,860 at the time of writing.

Bukele announced in June that El Salvador's government would give $30 worth of BTC to citizens who use the new Chivo wallet (which was criticized for its reliance on facial recognition software) to kick-start mass adoption of the cryptocurrency.

He also said the country would use its volcanoes to mine Bitcoin without raising concerns about the environmental impact because just one volcanic well could provide "approximately 95MW of 100% clean, 0 emissions geothermal energy.”

So begins the grand experiment. El Salvador is now the first country to consider a  cryptocurrency—not a central bank digital currency—legal tender. Now the world will watch to see what that means for the country and for Bitcoin.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.