El Salvador to keep dollar as legal tender, seeks World Bank help with bitcoin

El Salvador will not replace the US dollar with bitcoin as the legal tender, Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya said Wednesday, as the Central American nation sought technical assistance from the World Bank to implement bitcoin regulation.

The Central American country this month became the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, with President Nayib Bukele touting the cryptocurrency’s potential as a remittance currency for Salvadorans overseas.

El Salvador has been using the US dollar as legal tender for the past two decades after abandoning its own currency.

Finance Minister Zelaya said he clarified to the International Monetary Fund last week that El Salvador would not abandon the US dollar and replace it with the cryptocurrency.

“We gave our official position to the IMF. We have been emphatic, we are not replacing the US dollar as legal tender in El Salvador,” Zelaya told a news conference.

El Salvador is in the middle of loan negotiations with the IMF for a $1 billion program to patch budget gaps through 2023.

Fever chart of Bitcoin pricing June 10 through June 16
Bitcoin prices have been volatile, up 16.8 percent, at $39,017.88, early Wednesday afternoon, Coinbase data showed.

Zelaya said El Salvador continues to negotiate with IMF and called the talks successful.

El Salvador has also sought technical assistance from the World Bank on rules and implementation of bitcoin, Zelaya said.

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