Just 20% of Salvadorans believe that the country's economy has improved since Bitcoin was given the same status as the U.S. dollar.
A new survey has revealed that 70.2% of El Salvador's population have little to no confidence in Bitcoin.
Four months after the country adopted the cryptocurrency as legal tender, most of those polled believe BTC mainly benefits foreign investors, entrepreneurs and the richest in society. Just 10.9% think that the public is the main beneficiary.
A whopping 98% of those polled by the University Institute of Public Opinion also believe that Bitcoin's use should be voluntary — a stark contrast to current laws, which state all merchants must accept the digital asset as a payment method.
Bitcoin clearly remains divisive in the Central American nation. Back in November, President Nayib Bukele unveiled plans to build "Bitcoin City" at the base of a volcano. While 47.5% are against its construction, 47% are in favor of the ambitious project.
And when asked about Bukele's decision to regularly invest taxpayers' money in BTC — often directly from his phone — 61% said they disagree or strongly disagree with these purchases.
Critics have claimed there is a lack of transparency surrounding El Salvador's ownership of Bitcoin. It is believed the country currently owns 1,391 BTC and has suffered paper losses of $14 million at the time of writing, but this is difficult to verify.
A Skeptical Crowd
Much of the negative sentiment toward BTC may be linked to how suddenly the cryptocurrency became legal tender, with the entire process completed in just three months. Some 22.1% of Salvadoran adults still have no idea what Bitcoin is.
But perhaps the real litmus test ought to be this: do Salvadorans believe that the country's economy has improved since Bitcoin was given the same status as the U.S. dollar? Just 20% think this is the case, while 57.2% believe things have stayed the same. A further 17.3% say the current climate has worsened, while the remaining 5.5% were unsure.
Separately, just 9.9% said their family's economic situation has improved now BTC is legal tender. Although some Salvadorans found day trading lucrative as the digital asset surged to an all-time high of $69,000 in November 2021, things may have soured now prices are hovering around $42,000. (This is also a marked decline from the price of $52,000 seen on Sept. 7 — the day that the Bitcoin Law came into effect.)
Consumers who downloaded the Chivo wallet were given $30 worth of Bitcoin for free — and those who held onto this crypto from the very beginning would have seen this dwindle to $24 at the time of writing.
The poll also gave us an insight into how BTC is being used among the population. When asked how regularly they rely on the cryptocurrency to buy food or pay for services like water and electricity, just 3.9% said they use BTC on a daily basis.
Overall, it seems like many Salvadoran consumers are adopting a "wait and see" approach. When asked whether politicians in the Legislative Assembly should repeal the Bitcoin Law, a surprisingly high number — 45.1% — said no. Another optimistic statistic indicates that 32% expect the country's economy to improve within the next 12 months.
A total of 1,298 Salvadorans were polled for the research between Dec. 7 and 17 — before the substantial falls seen in Bitcoin's price over the past few weeks.