Ethereum’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, took to Reddit to lash out at a band of internet praise singers unanimously lauding the strides of El Salvadorian President, Nayib Bukele, despite growing concerns over the country’s coercive Bitcoin adoption tactics.
The 2021 Time 100 influential person, was quick to label Bukele’s praise singers as “Bitcoin Maximalists,” who appear unconcerned with the ongoing violation of citizens’ freedom to choose their preferred cryptocurrency in the effort to get more gains.
Bukele has remained the recipient of a growing number of international criticisms, first for what many believe is a hasty decision to float BTC as a legal tender in the North American Island nation, and more recently, an aggressive drive to spur nationwide adoption by all citizens irrespective of individual cryptocurrency preferences. Vitalik, who is critical of this dangerous monopoly, was quoted as saying:
” Making it mandatory for businesses to accept a specific cryptocurrency is contrary to the ideals of freedom that are supposed to be so important to the crypto space. Additionally, this tactic of pushing BTC to millions of people in El Salvador at the same time with almost no attempt at prior education is reckless and risks a large number of innocent people getting hacked or scammed. Shame on everyone (ok, fine, I’ll call out the main people responsible: shame on Bitcoin maximalists) who are uncritically praising him.”
For months in the US, skepticism has continued to grow concerning the use of cryptocurrencies with many identifying the technology as an unsecured conduit for the perpetuation of fraud and scams in many other countries. With the new law proposed by Bukele, many El Salvadorians, Buterin fears, may be predisposed to fraud and scam attacks due to an absence of proper education on the use of digital currencies, especially in rural areas.
Part of the concerns raised is not unconnected to the August nationwide protests which trailed Bukele’s announcement, featuring many working-class El Salvadorians aggrieved that such a decision was taken without proper consideration to the desire of citizens. Some of the protesters had called it a new conduit for money laundering.
Bukele’s tactics, crude as it may seem to Buterin, appear to be yielding tremendous results. Barely a month after mainstream adoption took place, over 46% of the nation’s population now have Bitcoin wallets compared to only 29% with active bank accounts.
Incentives such as a gas price discount for payments made in Bitcoin, favorable policies for foreign BTC investors, and the deposit of $30 worth of BTC to every citizen, are some of the perks Bukele is bringing to the table to make El Salvador a model Bitcoin nation by all means.