El Salvador's president announces legislative proposal to declare bitcoin legal tender

Nayib Bukele, El Salvador's controversial president, announced Saturday that he planned to submit a legislative approval that, if and when passed, would grant bitcoin the status of legal tender in his home country.

The announcement was made during the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami, Florida, during which Bukele appeared in a video announcing the move. 

"We hope that this decision will be just the beginning in providing a space where some of the leading innovators can reimagine the future of finance, potentially helping billions around the world," Bukele said in a Twitter post on Saturday evening. In what is perhaps a sign of the times, Bukele's profile picture was changed to feature the laser eyes memes, commonly used by proponents of bitcoin.

The El Salvadorean government is working with bitcoin startup Strike on the initiative. 

“This is the shot heard 'round the world for Bitcoin. What's transformative here is that bitcoin is both the greatest reserve asset ever created and a superior monetary network. Holding bitcoin provides a way to protect developing economies from potential shocks of fiat currency inflation," said Jack Mallers, Strike's founder and CEO.

As Bukele's political party, New Ideas, controls El Salvador's unicameral legislature following an election earlier this year, it is unlikely that Bukele's proposal will fail to pass.

Bukele entered office in 2019 pledging to fight corruption and endemic violence in El Salvador. Since that time, he has garnered sky-high approval ratings for actions against El Salvador's political old guard, and drawn criticism from international observers and governments who say Bukele has taken authoritarian actions as president.