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Tumbling bitcoin overshadows El Salvador’s crypto conference

El Salvador’s long-awaited bitcoin conference, which was in the limelight in 2021 after the small nation became the world’s first to adopt the cryptocurrency as legal tender, has lost its luster this time amid a deep rout in the digital currency universe.

November 18, 2022
By Nelson Renteria
18 November 2022

By Nelson Renteria

SAN SALVADOR, Nov 17 (Reuters) – El Salvador’s
long-awaited bitcoin conference, which was in the limelight in
2021 after the small nation became the world’s first to adopt
the cryptocurrency as legal tender, has lost its luster this
time amid a deep rout in the digital currency universe.

The absence of big names from the bitcoin world and empty
seats were noticeable at “Adopting Bitcoin: A Lightning Summit
in El Salvador,” which began Tuesday and ends Thursday in the
capital of San Salvador.

“The fact that prices are low, that there are problems
elsewhere (…) causes an uncertain environment,” said Juan
Fonseca, 41, a Guatemalan who traveled to the conference.

Like other cryptocurrencies, bitcoin fell
sharply over the year as U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate
hikes and ultra-high inflation prompted investors to ditch
riskier assets.

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency,
has plummeted further following the spectacular collapse of
crypto exchange FTX, now trading around $16,600, from an
all-time high of nearly $69,000 in November last year.

Some enthusiasts see today’s problems as just a temporary
blip.

Crypto exchange “Bitfinex will redouble its efforts to build
a free, unstoppable, resilient and open bitcoin and technology
infrastructure for El Salvador,” said Paolo Ardoino, the firm’s
chief technology officer.

Ifinex, Bitfinex’s parent, has agreed to collaborate with El
Salvador’s government to create a digital asset and securities
regulatory framework.

“El Salvador will become the financial and tech center of
Central America. The noise won’t distract the builders,” Ardoino
added after meeting with El Salvador President Nayib Bukele.

Bukele, who championed the adoption of the cryptocurrency as
legal tender alongside the U.S. dollar, said on Twitter on
Wednesday night, “We are buying one Bitcoin every day starting
tomorrow.”

So far, his government has acquired 2,381 bitcoins for about
$107 million, according to private estimates.
(Reporting by Nelson Renteria, Writing by Carolina Pulice;
Editing by Anthony Esposito and Richard Chang)

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