While to many Bitcoin’s real use case is for it to be a store of value, in the village of El Zonte, in El Salvador, the flagship cryptocurrency is being used as money for everyday transactions.
According to Forbes, in El Zonte most people are unbanked and the village does not use cash, Instead, everyday transactions are conducted using bitcoin thanks to the Bitcoin Beach project, launched by Michael Peterson, a California native that settled there.
In El Zonte, BTC is being used to pay for almost everything: residents can use the cryptocurrency to buy food, pay utility bills, receive salaries, and even issue educational grants to students who pursue a college education. In the local school, bus rides, lunch, and snacks, are paid for in bitcoin.
As part of the program’s goal, which is to create a sustainable bitcoin ecosystem, there are youth work programs employing young people to fix damaged water systems and repair roads. They are paid in BTC for their work, which helps add more crypto to the local economy.
The health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has seen many in the village lose their jobs. Bitcoin is helping them recover, as the initiative has so far helped 600 families receive $35 worth of BTC every three weeks to help cover basic expenses.
Bitcoin Payday- Because the economy has been devastated by the shutdown most people have lost their jobs. We have been able to put the people to work in the community and everyone is paid in #BTC that they can spend at the local businesses helping rebuild the local businesses pic.twitter.com/y74FxRwAqC
— Bitcoin Beach (@Bitcoinbeach) June 30, 2020
Because such a high number of bitcoin transactions could end up leading to a lot of fees, villagers use the “Wallet of Satoshi” app, which allows them to transact via the layer-two scaling solution, the Lightning Network.
As introducing bitcoin to the villagers wasn’t easy, those behind the project reportedly started teaching the youth first so these could then teach the elders in the village, according to the report.
Peterson thought of a bitcoin-based economy after someone approached him after making a BTC donation to help residents in El Zonte, as most of them were not able to open a bank account because they don’t meet the requirements to do so.
The government of El Salvador has not yet publicly interfered with the Bitocin Beach project. It isn’t clear whether it will support it or crackdown on it.
Featured image via Unsplash.