Day 27: Egoism
2 dicembre 2022

We have documented in these early weeks how adoption here in El Salvador is slowing down. Many merchants have stopped accepting them. The reasons they always give are twofold: Bitcoin is too complicated and there is a lack of volume. Very few are willing to pay in this way.

If we have already shown how too much complexity is totally to blame for the Chivo wallet, the second problem is far more serious and delicate. On the one hand, there are the citizens of El Salvador who earn and spend dollars. A strong currency, not a victim of serious inflation, and they view digital payments with suspicion. On the other, however, there are the encouraging data that tell of a strong increase in tourism in this country, also related to the many bitcoiners who come here to see the legal tender.

But if there are thousands of bitcoiners coming to visit, how is it possible that the volume of BTC transactions in the streets is not increasing? Maybe we are not numerically sufficient?

Maybe.

But I think the problem also lies elsewhere.

Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago, outside the Mi Primer Bitcoin graduation ceremony, I meet a Spanish gentleman who came to the country specifically for bitcoin. Tall and grizzled, in his 40s, he was helping the association that educates very young people in El Salvador about bitcoin. He was even an examiner. One of the “experts” then, called in to examine the kids. Bitcoin Beach cap, lean tanned physique, Bitcoin T-shirt. Typical fanboy.

We pause to talk about this very issue and how I was finding, after last year’s experience, less adoption.

It is at this point that he starts telling me about how he himself, strong in perfect Spanish, whenever he buys something always asks if he can pay in Bitcoin. But when he gets an affirmative answer, he starts investigating with the merchant to figure out exactly what he is going to do with the satoshi he is going to send him. Basically an interrogation. If the poor fellow responds that he wants to keep them for the future, then he will receive from the big Western Bitcoin fanboy a lightning transaction, but if he instead admits that he wants to exchange or receive them directly in dollars, then he gives up using bitcoin and pays directly in fiat.

Do you understand what idiocy that is?

I mean we didn’t come here to help these people, but we even demand that they are Hodlers. Otherwise they are not worthy of our bitcoins. A creepy mindset. Pure selfishness.

When I point out to him that the future of these people also depends on the success of bitcoin in this country and that perhaps his attitude is a bit selfish because after all, we can sacrifice a few thousand satoshi to incentivize adoption, even if they are converted to dollars, he goes on a rampage and starts screeching that he lives in El Zonte and that all his friends are the poor people in the village and that he cares about the fate of the last ones.

Evidently, however, not enough to sacrifice a few dollars in sats. 

And mind you. There are people who think like this galore. I have seen plenty of bitcoiners here paying in cash or with their flaming credit cards. Because bitcoins are not to be spent. Hodl to death. Are we kidding? Bitcoin will be worth billions, it’s not like they’re being spent today. We wouldn’t want to end up like that fool Lazlo! 

Too bad that Bitcoin’s success in El Salvador is also tied to transaction volume and that if we win our battle here, the value in Bitcoin’s markets will be positively affected. To the benefit of our whole community. So we all want it to appreciate, but only a few are willing to sacrifice a little satoshi to really contribute to the ultimate victory. How boorish selfishness. How sad humans are.

I mean this in no uncertain terms. At the risk of angering someone. If you come to visit this country for Bitcoin and you are not willing to pay in Bitcoin, do El Salvador a favor, stay home. That there is already enough garbage here. 

Ps.

I saw the guy again a few weeks later in El Zonte, comfortably seated eating a shrimp cocktail looking out at the sea in Palo Verde, one of the most exclusive resorts. One of those places that his many, many poor friends in the village can’t even afford to look at from a distance.

PPs. Lazlo is a fucking hero and has gone down in the history books, unlike all those who think he is a fool.