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President Bukele tries to fix El Salvador’s bitcoin woes

Published: Updated:

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele stepped in on Wednesday to closely manage the fraught roll-out of a payments app that underpins the nation’s adoption of bitcoin as legal tender, and called on users to report any problems on his Twitter feed.

Adopting language similar to IT departments in offices around the world, Bukele asked users to close and restart the app if a “currently under maintenance” error screen appeared.

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The historic adoption of bitcoin as legal tender by the Central American country has been beset by teething problems that have contributed to a rout in the value of the digital currency globally.

Bukele has sent a stream of Twitter messages over the past 36 hours instructing users on how to download the government-backed Chivo app which promises commission-free transactions and which his administration hopes will be adopted by the unbanked.



Overnight the president said the app, a digital wallet, was being disconnected for the second time to “improve user experience and the problems it had during the day.”

“We hope that tomorrow will be much better,” he wrote in a tweet.

The app’s rollout appears to have created a buzz in El Salvador, in part due to a government handout of $30 in bitcoin to every local user who signs up, and despite polls that show many people are wary of bitcoin’s volatility.

On the El Salvador edition of Apple’s App Store, Chivo was the No. 1 downloaded financial app on Wednesday.

Global retailers operating in El Salvador were accepting bitcoin at some stores, including McDonald’s Corp and Starbucks Corp, along with several local outlets.

Bukele, 40, who is doing well in opinion polls but has been accused of eroding democracy, is a heavy user of social media to govern and engage with the population.

Read more: El Salvador buys 150 more bitcoins on first day as legal tender