Which country in the Americas became the first to accept Bitcoin as an official currency in September 2021?
In June 2021, the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador passed 'Ley Bitcoin' (Bitcoin Law), which allowed the country to give the cryptocurrency bitcoin the status of legal tender from 7th September 2021. The law, proposed by President Nayib Bukele, states "the purpose of this law is to regulate bitcoin as unrestricted legal tender with liberating power, unlimited in any transaction, and to any title that public or private natural or legal persons require carrying out".
Bitcoin is a digital and global money system cryptocurrency that allows people to send or receive money across the Internet. It is the first of its kind, and allows transfers without needing a third party (e.g. a bank). Money can be exchanged without being linked to an identity.
Bitcoin was invented by a company or individual using the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Every bitcoin user is given an identifier of 26-35 letters and numbers, that represent a possible destination for a bitcoin payment. The domain name "bitcoin.org" was registered in August 2008 but mainstream popularity did not emerge until 2012. Whilst some people have embraced the new technology, others criticise its unstable price and high electricity consumption.
El Salvador began experimenting with bitcoin as a currency in 2019. President Bukele argued the Bitcoin Law is aimed to support the 70% of Salvadorans without bank accounts and would "generate jobs and help provide financial inclusion to thousands outside the formal economy".