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El Salvador becomes the first country to approve Bitcoin as legal currency

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele has made good on his promise to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. Officials in the Central American country’s congress voted to accept the cryptocurrency by a majority of 62 out of 84 votes, reports CNBC. In a worldwide first, El Salvador will accept Bitcoin as legal tender alongside the US dollar in 90 days, according to the BBC. The law effectively means the cryptocurrency can be used as payment for goods or services unless a business cannot provide the tech required to facilitate the transaction.

Ahead of the vote, Bukele tweeted that adoption would bring “financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation and economic development for our country.” He previously said the law would boost financial inclusion for the roughly 70 percent of Salvadorans who don’t have bank accounts. It could also help to speed up money transfers for the country which heavily relies on remittances from migrants.

El Salvador is no stranger to cryptocurrency. On its coast, two small beach towns known as El Zonte and Punta Mango formed Bitcoin economies last year — which saw the digital cash being accepted for groceries and utilities payments — with help from an anonymous donor. The decision to embrace cryptocurrency comes just days after the country formed a partnership with digital wallet firm Strike to build a financial infrastructure using Bitcoin tech. 

The move bucks the more defensive stance taken by developed and emerging nations. Both China and India have imposed restrictions on crypto trading. While the UK, US and EU are all exploring central bank digital currencies. 

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