El Salvador President Says Bitcoin Wallet Not Working After Country Adopts Cryptocurrency

In the initial hours after El Salvador became the first nation to adopt Bitcoin as legal currency Tuesday, El Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele said the digital wallet used for making transactions was not working but reassured users it will be fixed, the Associated Press reported.

The digital wallet, Chivo, was disconnected so server capacity could be increased. Bukele guided users through the technical difficulties on his Twitter account, which has more than 2.8 million followers.

"We prefer to correct it before we connect it again," Bukele said, telling users that the problem was a simple one to solve. He told his followers to download the app and leave comments updating him on their progress, the AP said.

El Salvador's goal is to install 200 Chivo automatic tellers and 50 Bitcoin attention centers.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

El Salvador Bitcoin
El Salvador on Tuesday became the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender, despite a technical glitch in the rollout's first hours. Above, government employees wait for the opening of a Chivo digital wallet machine, which will exchange cash for the cryptocurrency, in San Salvador on Tuesday. AP Photo/Salvador Melendez

The AP visited one of the automatic tellers in San Salvador's historic center, where attendants waited to help citizens, who initially didn't show much interest.

Asked if he had downloaded the Chivo app, Emanuel Ceballos, said he had not. "I don't know if I'm going to do it, I still have doubts about using that currency."

José Martín Tenorio said he was interested in Bitcoin but had not downloaded the app either. "I'm running to work. Maybe at home tonight."

Three face-to-face public opinion surveys performed recently showed that most Salvadorans did not agree with the government's decision to make Bitcoin legal currency. Bitcoin joins the U.S. dollar as El Salvador's official currencies.

In June, the Legislative Assembly enacted the Bitcoin law, and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration is providing the government with technical assistance.

The law says that Bitcoin can be used for any transaction and any business with the technological capacity to do so must accept payment in the cryptocurrency.

The government will back Bitcoin with a $150 million fund. To incentivize Salvadorans to use it, the government offered $30 worth of credit to those who use Chivo.

Critics have warned that the currency's lack of transparency could attract increased criminal activity to the country and its wild swings in value could quickly wipe out users' savings.

Bukele has said the cryptocurrency—originally created to operate outside government-controlled financial systems—would help attract investment and save Salvadorans money when they transfer earnings in the United States back home to relatives in El Salvador. But its use would be voluntary.

Bitcoin El Salvador
A woman in San Salvador holds a banner during an anti-Bitcoin demonstration on Tuesday. MARVIN RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images