105 Interactions, 4 Today
In a surprise Reddit post on Friday, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin praised El Salvador’s Bitcoin rollout and, in particular, President Nayib Bukele for requiring local businesses to accept the top cryptocurrency.
After a Reddit user on the r/cryptocurrency subreddit posted: “Unpopular opinion: El Salvador president Mr Nayab (sic) Bukele should not be praised by crypto community,” Buterin replied: “Nothing unpopular about this opinion. Making it mandatory for businesses to accept a specific cryptocurrency is contrary to the ideals of freedom that are supposed to be so important to the crypto space.”
Buterin’s post continued: “This tactic of pushing BTC to millions of people in El Salvador at the same time with almost no attempt at prior education is reckless, and risks a large number of innocent people getting hacked or scammed. Shame on everyone (ok, fine, I’ll call out the main people responsible: shame on Bitcoin maximalists) who are uncritically praising him.”
Indeed, Bukele’s acceptance of Bitcoin as legal tender, first announced with great fanfare at the Bitcoin Miami conference in June, has earned him praise from some of Bitcoin’s loudest voices. Those same Bitcoin supporters have been less eager to discuss the young president’s well-documented authoritarian tendencies, as well as the less desirable aspects of his government’s Bitcoin rollout. “It crushes my soul to see Bitcoin maximalists around the world cheering this when, if they actually sat down and read the law and regulations, it is completely opposite to everything they preach,” a Salvadoran business owner who requested anonymity told Decrypt.
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And Buterin isn’t the only voice in crypto speaking out about the contradictions in forcing an open, decentralized technology on business owners.
At the TOKEN2049 conference in London just this week, Blockchain.com co-founder Nicolas Cary said during a panel, “I think there’s some valid criticisms of how the program is rolled out in El Salvador in terms of being top down. One of the main ethos of crypto is that there’s really grassroots adoption, and people are doing it voluntarily.”
Buterin didn’t stop with his initial post. When the original poster commented further down in the same thread, “It’s like [Bukele] pushed it because he bought at a cheaper price and knew a country adopting a crypto would alone take the price high enough to make him rich,” Buterin responded, “Simpler and dumber hypothesis: he enjoys being praised by powerful people, both for political reasons and because he is a human being like the rest of us (ie. Americans). Bitcoin maximalists are a very easy community to win over: all you have to do is be in a position of power and do or say nice things about them and their coin.”
The original poster replied to Buterin: “Elon did the same exact thing, now Bukele exploiting emotions of the community.”