With less than a week to go before El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law takes effect on Sept. 7, a majority of citizens surveyed are opposed to government-mandated cryptocurrency adoption.
A survey conducted by the local Central American University’s (UCA) Institute of Public Opinion has found that 70% of Salvadorans believe President Nayib Bukele’s Bitcoin Law, recognizing the cryptocurrency as legal tender, should be repealed.
However more than 90% of those surveyed also admitted they have a poor understanding of cryptocurrency.
The institute recorded a dire public approval rating of just 7.64% for the president — the lowest registered during Bukele’s term so far.
El Salvador’s struggling economy
Attitudes to the Bitcoin Law appear intertwined with worries over the country’s poor economic performance.
The poll found that 45% of Salvadoran citizens believe that poverty and unemployment are the two most urgent problems facing the nation, and 43% believe that the nation’s economy will worsen with the passing of the Bitcoin Law.
According to The World Bank, 22.8% of El Salvador’s population are currently living below the poverty line, while the average annual income in the country is just $3,800. More than two-thirds of Salvadorans do not believe the local economy will improve even with an increase to the minimum wage.
The poll also found that 20% of Salvadorans “openly state that they do not know what a Bitcoin is,” while a further 70% confess to having a poor understanding of cryptocurrency. According to a rough translation, the researchers conducting the survey concluded:
“In other words, nine out of 10 Salvadorans have no clear knowledge of what this financial asset is.”
The findings echo a similar poll taken in July, which found that only 20% of locals approved Bukele’s forthcoming Bitcoin Law.
Bukele govt sprukes BTC
If there’s a sliver of optimism to be taken from the poll, it’s that the latest figures suggest the number of citizens with “no understanding” of Bitcoin has more than halved from July’s figure of 46% — suggesting efforts from the government to increase awareness have had some slight effect.
On August 30, Bukele shared the country’s first state-backed Bitcoin TV advertisement to Twitter, featuring animated tutorials on how the government’s “Chivo” digital wallet can be used to purchase goods and transfer value.
The following day, Bukele tweeted out images of Bitcoin ATMs that are slated for rollout across the country, with the President claiming that 50 physical terminals will be operational on Sept. 7. The President also estimated that the pivot to embrace crypto will save the country $400 million each year in remittance fees.
Los puntos Chivo ayudarán a que la población pueda utilizar @chivowallet.
Esto les dará libertad y seguridad financiera, aparte de recibir beneficios, entre ellos el ahorro de 400 millones de dólares al año en comisiones para enviar y recibir remesas.#Bitcoin #PuntosChivo pic.twitter.com/BtVrKiK5eZ
— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) August 31, 2021
To help drum up support for Bitcoin, the government also launched a charitable campaign collecting BTC donations to fund dental treatments for impoverished Salvadorans. The “Bitcoin Smiles” campaign raised 1.02 BTC (roughly $50,000) in total from 797 individual contributions.
Despite the government’s best efforts, concerns clearly remain. Hundreds of local citizens turned out to protest the law in solidarity with unions and social organizations on Sept. 2.
Sindicatos y organizaciones sociales se pronuncian en contra del Bitcóin, en las afueras del Centro Cultural Cívico Legislativo. pic.twitter.com/C9ftS6OfCD
— LPGPolitica (@LPGPolitica) September 1, 2021