El Salvador president Nayib Bukele’s message at this year’s Miami Bitcoin conference was loud and clear: adopting the crypto as legal tender would be a game changer. A new poll shows locals are wary.
Introduced by Bitcoin influencer Jack Mallers (who doubles as director of payment platform Strike), Bukele said the move would create jobs, provide financial inclusion, and even “push humanity a tiny bit in the right direction,” according to The Guardian.
However, El Salvador’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CoCI) recently showed the nation mightn’t be as ready for mass Bitcoin adoption as Bukele would hope.
The survey, titled “Doubts and concerns among entrepreneurs and consumers about the circulation of Bitcoin in the country,” polled 1,600 CoCI members.
Respondents to the poll (first reported by Latin American media El Faro) fell into two camps — entrepreneurs (43%) and non-entrepreneurs (57%).
96% of entrepeneurs expressed they’d prefer Bitcoin be optional, rather than enforced by the government.
Poll says Salvador wants a choice
Indeed, Bukele has moved to enforce that vendors accept Bitcoin but neither merchants or non-business owners seem particularly keen.
92% of polled citizens didn’t even agree that the use of Bitcoin was mandatory. This calls the effectiveness of Bukele’s new ruling into question.
Not only that, when asked what they’d do with the Bitcoin they received, a little more than half of entrepreneurs indicated they’d swap it for dollars.
- Around 11% thought Bitcoin would attract investment to the El Salvador.
- Nearly 50% reckoned the plan won’t attract investment or generate employment.
- 39% said they didn’t trust Bitcoin in the buying and selling process while 3.5% said it gave them hope.
According to the survey, both business owners and citizens voiced concerns around unfamiliarity with Bitcoin and worried they didn’t wield the technology or knowledge to use it.
Bitcoin’s volatility was also a big factor for many potential users. More than 93% said they’d rather not receive salaries in Bitcoin.
And while Bukele encouraged the idea that Bitcoin would make remittances easier (personal remittances made up around 20% of the country’s GDP in 2019), four-fifths responded they’d rather receive fiat.
Speaking about the survey, CoCI president Jorge Hasbún reportedly said: “We believe that this excellent response is a reflection of how urgent this issue is for Salvadorans, in the sense of the implications it will have for the family economy on a day-to-day basis.”
When Bukele first floated Bitcoin as legal tender, he claimed it would “bring financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation and economic development” to the country.
At least in the short-term, Salvadoran merchants will take some convincing.