El Salvador beach town hopes to ride bitcoin wave

Residents of the poor beach town of El Zonte, El Salvador are standing watch...

hoping a tide of financial fortune finally comes in.

A local beach, dubbed Bitcoin Beach, has jumped into the waters of the digital currency with vigor as El Salvador this week becomes the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender.

Optimism is riding high among some locals, as well as bitcoin advocate and Bitcoin Beach owner Michael Peterson.

"A lot of countries are afraid of bitcoin because they're afraid if they bring it in here then people are going to prefer that instead of the local currency. But El Salvador doesn't have that problem, so they have that freedom to embrace this. And with that comes all these jobs in the sector, there are tonnes of finance companies that are now interested in El Salvador. And they bring good paying jobs and opportunities for the people here."

In many places around the beach town, the transition from cash to bitcoin has been seamless.

Simon is a tourist visiting from Canada.

"And I pay almost everything here in bitcoin. That's very easy for me, I just took my wallet that I have, that I usually use in Canada. I sent the bitcoin on my Bitcoin Beach wallet, which is a local wallet, it takes like 20 minutes for the transaction to clear and then I could use bitcoin everywhere. So it is actually very, very easy."

Locals are being paid in bitcoin too, and shopkeepers like Reina Isabel Aguilar are happy to reap the rewards as they accept a notoriously volatile cryptocurrency that -as of late - has seen its value go up.

"We use the Bitcoin Beach application. We've been using it now for ten months and it has really been a great advantage. We have had earnings and the earnings have been used to buy many things for the shop."

But all the bitcoin happy talk ignores the extreme volatility of the digital currency. In this year alone, bitcoin has surged to an all-time high above $64,000, then plummeted by more than half its value weeks later to $28,000, recovering somewhat to nearly $46,000 on Tuesday.

That's huge swing and a big risk for a small town that's attempting to ride a bitcoin wave that could just as easily go from coasting to financial wipe out.

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