El Salvador’s ‘Bitcoin Davos’ was not really about cryptocurrencies

Representatives of 44 banking institutions gathered in El Salvador for a summit on financial inclusion. The president, Nayib Bukele, has focused on bitcoin, but central banks have not only talked about it.

Some have gone so far as to talk about “Bitcoin Davos”, referring to the famous World Economic Forum. Representatives of 44 central banks and financial institutions were invited to El Salvador, and President Nayib Bukele shown on Twitter their coming as a strong signal for the adoption of bitcoin around the world. In the absence of a clear announcement, many had interpreted the conference to deal specifically with cryptocurrency.

However, this was not really the case: it was, above all, a summit organized by AFI, the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (Alliance for Financial Inclusion), a Malaysian organization. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the best ways to ensure greater inclusion of banks – and although part of the discussion focused on bitcoin, it was not a meeting dedicated solely to cryptocurrencies.

Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador // Source: Wikimedia Commons

What were the bankers talking about?

It was the central bank of Paraguay, whose representative was on the trip, who first issued a press release to rectify the situation. In its communication, the institution explains that ” the meeting does not focus on cryptocurrencies », And recalled that cryptocurrencies were not considered legal currencies in the country. ” Paraguay’s central bank does not intend to discuss the adoption of cryptocurrencies in the framework of AFI “.

So what were the bankers talking about? According to the AFI program under this ” week of events “, participants have” held discussions on promoting digital ecosystems and financial innovations “, to ” provide more assistance to small businesses, women and low-wage earners “.

Band members also talked about “ the emergence and regulation of digital private currencies in developing countries i.e. cryptocurrencies, but also digital assets and stableboins. Not much discussion about the central bank’s plans to accept bitcoin as a legal tender.

Central bank representatives tried Bitcoin

Allegations that the meeting was devoted to cryptocurrencies should therefore be taken with a grain of salt. It is true, however, that a panel was organized to talk about the profits of bitcoin, presented by Roman Martinez and Nicolas Burtey, the two entrepreneurs behind Bitcoin Beach (the Salvadoran resort where bitcoin was first used). They talked for a long time about the history of the place and the payment systems evolved.

Representatives of central banks on Bitcoin Beach // Source: Galoy

Representatives of financial institutions even visited Bitcoin Beach at the end of their stay to test cryptocurrency payments for themselves. Galoy, the company that developed the crypto-wallets for Bitcoin Beach, says members of the group were able to ” see what bitcoin does for societies that are excluded from the banking system present “And Nayib Bukele even took advantage of the visit to get them to take a break and make them shout.” bitcoin “.

Although the members of AFI currently do not intend to all recognize bitcoin as a legal tender, the symbol is strong. Global financial institutions have historically been opposed to cryptocurrencies. The IMF criticized Salvador’s plan to adopt bitcoin, saying the country was “ gone too far “, and Christine Largarde, President of the European Central Bank, recently said that cryptocurrencies do not” was worth nothing “.

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