El Salvador’s Chivo Bitcoin App Has Lost 99% of Customers & ATM Booths Are Now ‘Empty’
A new report from El Diario de Hoy, one of El Salvador’s leading media providers, has found major discrepancies between actual Bitcoin remittances in the country versus what the government claims.
While El Salvador’s government claims Bitcoin has created a mega-tourism boom, and issued in a wave of prosperity as “millions switch to using Bitcoin’, the blockchain shows a totally different story.
Under 1% of remittances made to El Salvador make use of the state-operated Chivo app and wallet — and bitcoin ATM booths in the nation are “empty” less than a year after their launch. A reality that many Bitcoiners wish weren’t the case, as it confirms that citizens just aren’t interested in using it as a payment method.
The report quotes data from the Central Reserve Bank that shows that between September 2021 and June 2022, USD 120.46 million entered the country via crypto wallets. That represents just 1.8% of the USD 6.4 billion total remittances sent to the nation — mostly from overseas-based Salvadorans — in the same period.
The figures also show that USD 29.68 million was remitted in BTC via the crypto wallets in October 2021 — one month after bitcoin was adopted as legal tender in El Salvador. Since then, however, senders have remitted no more than USD 20 million per month. In some months, that figure fell to around the USD 10 million mark.
The data was released to the EFE news agency, which says the Central Reserve Bank refused to tell it if the figures represented BTC sent via Chivo only, or if it also included data from other BTC wallets.
Such information, the agency claimed, has been “placed under secrecy.”
El Diario de Hoy, meanwhile, claimed that “in the center of” the capital San Salvador, most Chivo ATM booths “look empty, with “few Salvadorans” coming to ask staff about how to use machines.
Others seem reluctant to “make transactions” using the app, the media outlet added. The same newspaper claimed that multiple businesses in downtown San Salvador have removed the “bitcoin accepted” signs they put up only a few months ago.