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HOW EL SALVADOR INTRODUCED 44 COUNTRIES TO BITCOIN THIS WEEK | by heidi


 


El Salvador hosted central bankers and financial authorities from 44 countries for a financial inclusion event this week.

All participating members were able to download their own Bitcoin wallets and make purchases with BTC.

In July 1944, 44 countries met to determine the Bretton Woods financial system. Once again, 44 countries came together to learn a new system.

On May 15, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele announced that 32 central bankers and 12 financial authorities from 44 countries would meet in his country for an event about achieving financial inclusion and banking the unbanked through Bitcoin’s digital economy.


The event, hosted by the The Central Bank of El Salvador and known as the Digital Financial Services Working Group and the SME Finance Working Group, focused on financial inclusion after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All participating countries are members of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI).


However, doubts were raised about the relationship between the event and Bitcoin – and if there was any in the first place.


A BITCOIN EVENT?

Galoy, the open source software company that developed the Bitcoin Beach wallet, wrote a blog post titled “The central bankers were definitely not coming to El Salvador to discuss Bitcoin,” addressing comments that Bukele’s statements could be misrepresenting the intention of the event.



The blog post boasts a number of pictures from the event showing many of the participants actively learning about and enjoying the Bitcoin ecosystem, putting those accusations of misrepresentation to bed.


Roman Martinez (Chimbera) and Nicolas Burtey, community leaders at Bitcoin Beach, sharing the story of the initiative and giving an introduction to Bitcoin and the Lightning Network in the event.

Roman Martinez (Chimbera) and Nicolas Burtey, community leaders at Bitcoin Beach, sharing the story of the initiative and giving an introduction to Bitcoin and the Lightning Network in the event.


Galoy


Outside of the conference room, the Bitcoin Beach wallet team show attendees how to download and use a Lightning wallet.

Outside of the conference room, the Bitcoin Beach wallet team show attendees how to download and use a Lightning wallet.


Galoy


After installing Lightning wallets, attendees were able to start transacting in bitcoin, and some chose to buy some coffee and coconuts with this particular vendor.

After installing Lightning wallets, attendees were able to start transacting in bitcoin, and some chose to buy some coffee and coconuts with this particular vendor.


Galoy


“Twitter has been ablaze with posts about whether or not this was a Bitcoin event. It wasn’t – it was a financial inclusion event. Bitcoin just happens to be the most inclusive financial network in the world,” per Galoy’s blog post.


Even the AFI cleared these concerns on its website addressing the event, saying, “The meetings also align with El Salvador’s recently launched national financial inclusion strategy which has digitization and access to finance to small businesses as a priority.”



A VISIT TO BITCOIN BEACH

On May 19, the last day of the event, 90 central bankers and financial authorities from all participating countries traveled to Bitcoin Beach in El Zonte, El Salvador so they could download their own Bitcoin wallets and experience a new financial system with their own hands.


After the financial authorities discovered bitcoin, they couldn’t help but gather for a commemorative video and photo shoot where they can be heard yelling “Bitcoin!” amid the beautiful landscape of El Zonte.


Vendors that participated in the event were thrilled to be involved, and one particular fruit vendor noted that the central bankers “looked excited at how we use BTC in the area.” Speaking of vendors, the Bitcoin swag being sold for BTC to participants quickly ran out, and the Bitcoin Beach Twitter account made sure to remind themselves to bring more products for an eventual next gathering.


At least some of the bankers will be experiencing a more refreshing – and Bitcoiner – casual Friday this upcoming weekend.

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