El Salvador Turns to US Bitcoin Wallet to Revamp Chivo

El Salvador, the first country in the world to make bitcoin legal tender, has announced a partnership with AlphaPoint to improve its bitcoin wallet


key takeaways

  • El Salvador has recruited US-based crypto wallet provider to address Chivo concerns
  • The partnership comes after months of reports of fraud and difficulties with the application

Nearly five months into the uneven rollout of El Salvador’s experiment to make bitcoin the country’s currency, the Central American nation has tapped an institutional crypto wallet provider to improve its in-house Chivo Wallet.

Chivo launched with a host of glitches, citizens said. The administration has since tapped AlphaPoint to integrate with Chivo in an effort to make the wallet more stable and support instantaneous bitcoin transactions.

Igor Telyatnikov, co-founder and CEO of AlphaPoint, told Blockworks the company was chosen to “deliver the scale and stability required to enable an application at the size of the Chivo wallet.”

“An improved lightning (a bitcoin scaling solution) integration, application responsiveness and enhanced administrative tools for increasing customer service response time are elements delivered in the implementation,” Telyatnikov told Blockworks. 

Over 4 million Salvadorans currently use the Chivo app, Vadim Telyatnikov, co-founder and chairman of AlphaPoint said. 

The implementation comes after months of complaints. When it launched in September, the app did not require photo identification, only a citizen’s date of birth and national identity card number (similar to a social security number), resulting in fraud. Citizens and business owners also expressed concern with the amount of time it took to access funds, according to local reports.

As a result, relatively few businesses now accept bitcoin, citizens say. 

“The only businesses that are accepting bitcoin readily, aside from a few, are big corporations like Starbucks and McDonald’s that have tech teams to implement it,” said Alexandra Dumitru, a cryptocurrency consultant and advocate living in El Salvador. “It’s a pretty small percentage of businesses in the country, especially considering how many small tiendas [convenience stores] and whatnot there are.”

Problems aside, El Salvador is still the only country in the world to accept bitcoin as legal tender. Even if only large corporations are playing along, that’s still a significant development, the AlphaPoint team said. 

“Notably, for the first time anywhere in the world, major chains such as Super Selectos, McDonalds, Starbucks, Wendy’s, Subway, Walmart and government offices are already accepting Bitcoin with Chivo,” Vadim Telyatnikov, said. “Adoption on such a broad scale has not been achieved yet anywhere else in the world.” 

Meanwhile, El Salvador officials are working to roll out an additional 1,500 bitcoin ATMs across the country with the aim of easing adoption. 

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