El Salvador President Bukele Purchases 21 Bitcoins on Dec. 21

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
December 22, 2021 Updated: December 22, 2021

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele bought another 21 bitcoins on Dec. 21 to mark the 21st day of the last month of the 21st year of the 21st century.

Bukele announced the tongue-twisting bitcoin purchase on Twitter on Tuesday night, adding that he made the purchase at exactly 21:00 local time.

The president shared a screenshot of the transactions, worth a little more than $1 million, saying, “Got the receipt.”

“El Salvador’s entire size is 21,000 km2. Coincidence? I don’t think so,” he also noted.

Lawmakers in El Salvador passed legislation in June making bitcoin legal tender alongside the U.S. dollar, with the hopes that it will boost financial inclusion in El Salvador, where around 70 percent of citizens lack access to traditional financial services.

The law went into effect on Sept. 7, and requires businesses to accept bitcoin payments on transactions, while Salvadorans will be able to use the digital currency to make tax payments.

Meanwhile, Bukele has been an outspoken champion of the digital asset, which he believes will bring “financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation, and economic development” for the country.

However, critics have warned that the country’s adoption bitcoin could have a negative impact on its credit rating.

“The risks associated with the adoption of bitcoin as legal tender in El Salvador seem to outweigh its potential benefits. There are immediate negative implications for credit, and wide usage of bitcoin is unlikely,” S&P GlobalRatings wrote on Twitter in September.

Elsewhere, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which provided an emergency loan to El Salvador last year and is currently negotiating another round of lending, has also expressed concerns over the country’s adoption of bitcoin as legal tender.

“Given Bitcoin’s high price volatility, its use as a legal tender entails significant risks to consumer protection, financial integrity, and financial stability,” the IMF said in a statement titled “El Salvador: Staff Concluding Statement of the 2021 Article IV Mission” in November.

“Its use also gives rise to fiscal contingent liabilities. Because of those risks, Bitcoin should not be used as a legal tender. Staff recommends narrowing the scope of the Bitcoin law and urges strengthening the regulation and supervision of the new payment ecosystem,” it wrote.

The country’s latest bitcoin purchase comes just 16 days after the last one on Dec. 4, when Bukele revealed that the country had added 150 bitcoins to its position during a dip in the cryptocurrency market for the first time in months.

In November, Bukele announced that he plans to build a “Bitcoin City” at the base of the Conchagua volcano that will make use of the geothermal energy to power both the city and bitcoin mining, which is an energy-intensive process.

There will also be no property, income, or municipal taxes in the city, Bukele said, adding that the city would also have zero carbon dioxide emissions.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.