Making Bitcoin legal tender in a country means responding to a whole range of needs of everyday life. Many of these are difficult to guess from a distance and not really immersing yourself in everyday life. Living an experience like ours means just that, every day there are small needs that the traditional financial system discretely solves thanks to decades of different technological implementations. it’s a challenge that Bitcoin must overcome starting from experiments like the Salvadoran one. Bitcoin as to be not only an alternative, but had to be just as convenient.
One of these small daily needs came to us just today.
Tomorrow we will leave San Salvador to travel to El Zonte, the Bitcoin Beach, that now mythical place where it all began. We will spend about a week there. It will be important for us because we will finally get in touch with the large community of bitcoiners that has formed there. We’ll meet and interview the key people of this revolution, we’ll get good advice from them to continue our adventure and we’ll be able to document how their initiative is concretely impacting the local community.
Before we move though, as always, we need to find ourselves a new base camp. We shouldn’t assume that Bitcoin adoption in El Zonte is total, and in fact it’s not. We select a few hotels that seem to fit the bill, in terms of budget and location, and start calling them. The first calls we make are not successful. In some facilities there are unfortunately already no more rooms available.
It is just as we are talking to the front desk of one of these hotels that the line drops abruptly and, a few seconds later, we get a text message from Claro, the phone provider we are using here in El Salvador, telling us that our credit has run out. We have to recharge it and of course we have to find a way to do it in Bitcoin.
By now we’ve figured out that Bitrefill is a must-have resource here and it’s the first place we go to look, Claro is a big phone company in Central America and it’s likely that the site offers gift cards you can purchase. They do, and the company’s logo is prominently displayed on the page dedicated to cryptocurrency-payable services available in El Salvador. We prepare our wallets and immediately consult the provider’s site, sure that we will be able to get only the usual code from Bitrefill, which we will then have to insert who knows where, after registering online our users.
Instead, we’re struck by an entirely different user experience. Magical.
Claro’s service is in fact totally integrated in Bitrefill. By clicking on the company logo you can access a dedicated page, where you just have to enter the amount of the recharge you want to make and the phone number you intend to recharge. At the moment of finalizing the purchase you have access to a new screen, which summarizes the data and allows you to select the type of wallet that we have installed on the smartphone and that we want to use. Clicking on confirm the wallet opens automatically and sets directly the lightning payment, the FaceID of the iPhone is activated, recognizes our face and that’s it. After a few seconds, a text message from Claro notifies us that the recharge of the credit the credit has been made.
Frankly, a user experience worthy of ApplePay or GooglePay, super easy and super fast. This is how you beat the competition. By developing integrated systems that make Bitcoin’s privacy and incensurability features accessible and extremely practical. How far development has come in recent years. Seeing such effective solutions fills us with hope for the future ahead.
Having recovered the functionality of our phones we start our search again and within a short time we find a hotel that suits our needs. It is right in the heart of Bitcoin Beach and will be an ideal base camp for the days ahead. However, we still don’t know how we’re going to get to El Zonte. Uber’s customer service has still distinguished itself for uselessness and incompetence, no one has been able to give us any explanation and no one has even tried to solve our problem. Our application is still blocked and tomorrow we will have to use a cab.
We’re excited to leave the city and start exploring more rural and nature-based settings. We’re about to learn another side of El Salvador, new communities and lifestyles different from the metropolitan ones.
The Pacific Ocean awaits us.