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Bitcoin legal tender in El Salvador

El Salvador has adopted bitcoin after Congress approved the President’s proposal to embrace cryptocurr­ency Slovíčka

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With 62 out of 84 possible votes, lawmakers voted in favor of President Nayib Bukele's proposal to create a law to adopt bitcoin, despite concern about the potential impact on El Salvador's program with the Internatio­nal Monetary Fund.

Bukele has touted the use of bitcoin for its potential to help Salvadoran­s living abroad to send remittance­s back home, while saying the U.S. dollar will also continue as legal tender.

"It will bring financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation and economic developmen­t for our country," Bukele said shortly before the vote in Congress, which is controlled by his party and allies.

The use of bitcoin will be optional for individual­s and would not bring risks to users. The government will guarantee convertibi­lity to dollars at the time of transactio­n through a trust created at the country's developmen­t bank BANDESAL. Its use as legal tender will go into law in 90 days, with the bitcoin-dollar exchange rate set by the market.

Under the law, bitcoin must be accepted by firms when offered as payment for goods and services. Tax contributi­ons can also be paid in bitcoin.

Analysts have said the move could complicate talks with the IMF, where El Salvador seeks a more than $1 billion program.

Bitcoin enjoyed its best day in two weeks, rising 5% to $35,197.

"The market will now be focused on adoption through El Salvador and whether other nations follow," said Richard Galvin of crypto fund Digital Asset Capital Management. "This could be a keycatalys­t for bitcoin over the next two to three years."

Emerging economies - where bank penetratio­n is much lower than in developed countries and reliance on money transfers from abroad much higher - have been at the forefront of the cryptocurr­ency bonanza. Outside the U.S., countries with the highest trading volumes and mining activity are all developing nations, including China, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Ukraine and Vietnam.

But the use of digital currencies can also pose risks for dollarized economies, such as El Salvador.

"Dollarizat­ion, the use of foreign currencies, is a major problem for macro and financial stability in many emerging markets, and it could worsen if digitaliza­tion facilitate­s access to foreign currencies," said David Hauner at BofA.

Converting local currencies to and from bitcoin often relies on informal brokers. Prices are volatile, and buying and selling is a complex process that demands technical knowledge.

El Salvador will "promote the necessary training and mechanisms so that the population can access bitcoin transactio­ns," according to the law.

Text pochází z agentury Reuters

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FOTO REUTERS

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