Bitso, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in Latin America will provide the core crypto service provider to El Salvador’s official Bitcoin wallet, known as Chivo.
Bitso, in conjunction with Bitcoin becoming legal tender for El Salvador, announced Sept. 7 that it would aid El Salvador in launching a state-supported BTC wallet. The firm will be joined by companies such as Silvergate Bank, Athena Bitcoin, and Algorand.
Silvergate Bank, a California-chartered commercial bank, and a member of the United States Federal Reserve, will partner with Bitso in order to facilitate U.S. Dollar transactions for Chivo’s wallet. Athena Bitcoin will be providing some of the front-end services, and Chivo’s ATM operations. Algorand will serve as the official blockchain provider.
The state-issued Chivo wallet was launched today. It allows individuals and businesses to send money in Bitcoin or dollars to anyone in the world using any device. It is available for Android and iOS. Users can convert Bitcoin transactions to dollars automatically or keep their Bitcoins and withdraw them later in cash at 200 Bitcoin ATMs located across the country.
Cointelegraph was told by Bitso that Chivo users do not have to pay fees. The spokesperson said that Chivo app users would not be charged fees for withdrawing, depositing, or any other transaction.
“The Salvadoran government has established strategic partnerships to ensure convertibility at the most competitive prices. Users will not be required to cover any costs.”
Bitso stated in the announcement that “the use of the Chivo wallet will be completely optional and anyone without citizenship will have access to the app as well.”
Daniel Vogel, Bitso CEO and co-founder, expressed optimism that El Salvador’s acceptance of Bitcoin will have a positive impact on the lives millions of Salvadorans.
“Over the past seven years, we have tirelessly worked to find the best way to make Bitcoin available to more than 2.75 millions customers in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. Vogel said that today, as El Salvador’s leading crypto-service provider, we are dedicated to making crypto useful for Salvadorans.”
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukuele reported temporary capacity issues on Chivo’s platform following the launch of the Chivo wallet. This caused app installation problems. Bukele stated that Chivo would temporarily disconnect its systems in order to resolve the problem. He also stated that Chivo will be available to Salvadorans living in the U.S.A. as well as “almost all countries in the world”.
Bitso was founded in 2014. It is a leading cryptocurrency platform in Latin America. Bitso is supported by major crypto companies such as Ripple and Coinbase, the U.S. crypto exchange. Bitso’s user base nearly tripled from 1 million in July 2020, to almost 3 million by September 2021. After a $250 million raise earlier in the year, Vaughan Smith, a Facebook veteran, was hired as chief operating officer.
In June, President Bukele announced that Bitcoin would be accepted as legal tender along with the U.S. Dollar. This was in an effort to bank the unbanked population by using the digital currency. 70% of Salvadorans do not have access to basic financial services. The bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly of the country and was to be implemented on Sept. 7.
Many protestors in El Salvador opposed the government’s plans for Bitcoin to be legal tender. They cited security and volatility as reasons. Survey results from El Salvador’s Central American University’s Institute of Public Opinion found that 70% of Salvadorans think Bukele’s Bitcoin law, which recognizes cryptocurrency as legal tender, should be repealed. Survey respondents said that cryptocurrency was not well understood by more than 90%.