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El Salvador says merchants must process BTC transactions — or they may face action

A Salvadoran government official has said that while businesses must accept BTC transactions, they can choose whether to receive BTC or USD upon settling transactions.

In an interview with local media, Javier Argueta, the legal counsel to the Presidential House of El Salvador, clarified the obligations of businesses the day before the country’s controversial Bitcoin Law recognizing BTC as legal tender took effect.

The legal counsel to the President of El Salvador has stated that businesses are mandated to accept Bitcoin from customers — but they are able to choose whether or not they will receive BTC or U.S. dollars once the transaction is settled.

According to a rough translation, Agueta emphasized that it is mandatory for businesses “to have the electronic wallet” to receive Bitcoin, however “In the transaction […] you have the will to receive Bitcoin or dollars, that is why it is voluntary.”

“If I buy you 1,000 shirts that cost $200 and I’m going to pay you in Bitcoin, you have the wallet, but in the transaction, when you do it, you have the will to receive Bitcoin or dollars, that is why it is voluntary.”

The official added that businesses which refuse to accept BTC will be operating in violation of local regulations. ElSalvador.com’s story states: “According to Argueta, all businesses are obliged to make the transaction in Bitcoin and despite the fact that neither the law nor the regulations clearly state it, if the business does not accept it, it is exposed to referrals of infractions to the Consumer Protection Law.”

The government’s Chivo wallet allows users to process transfers in both BTC and U.S. dollars. The wallet is maintained in partnership with Mexican crypto exchange Bitso — which says it is working with California-based crypto-friendly bank Silvergate facilitate transactions denominated in USD. 

The app also allows merchants to automatically convert the Bitcoin they receive into dollars.

Related: McDonald’s now accepts Bitcoin, but only in El Salvador

The clarification comes as local businesses are pushing back against language contained in the Bitcoin Law that states merchants “must” accept Bitcoin as a means of payment, with representatives of the private sector pushing for the legislation to be reworded.



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