El Salvador climbs the Bitcoin ATM rankings: 200 machines on the way
El Salvador climbs the Bitcoin ATM rankings: 200 machines on the way

El Salvador climbs the Bitcoin ATM rankings: 200 machines on the way

By Eleonora Spagnolo - 24 Aug 2021

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El Salvador is on its way to becoming a true Bitcoin hub with the installation of 200 ATMs where it will be possible to deposit and withdraw for free without commission. 

The announcement came directly from President Nayib Bukele via Twitter.

Bitcoin in El Salvador: expectation for September 7

The date circled in red on the calendar is September 7. On that day, Bitcoin will become, for all intents and purposes, a legal currency. In the meantime, however, not everyone in the country agrees with this turning point strongly desired by the president to revive the local economy.

That’s why Nayib Bukele released a tweetstorm in which he defended himself against the accusations of the opposition but also explained how El Salvador is preparing for September 7.

The dollar remains

The president had to explain for the umpteenth time that Bitcoin will not replace the current official currency, the US dollar. What will change is that from September 7, it will be possible to download an app, Chivo, with which you will get $30 in Bitcoin for free. But, explains the president to the Salvadorans:

“If they want to, they’ll download it, and if not, they won’t.”

The app will allow people to receive payments in Bitcoin and dollars and serve to receive and send payments between friends and family, but its use is not mandatory. 


From September 7 (and from now), it will be possible to send remittances from abroad to El Salvador in Bitcoin and dollars. With two differences:

  • remittances in Bitcoin are instantaneous (or almost);
  • remittances in Bitcoin are commission-free. 

That is where the strength of Bitcoin Ley lies, according to the country’s president: the population of El Salvador spends as much as $400 million a year in commissions on remittances. With Bitcoin, there will be savings for the population and a benefit for the economy. 

Explains the president:

This savings alone will be a massive benefit to our people (or at least those who want it).

There’s also the benefit of not having to carry cash. Safer and more convenient.

Another benefit is that informal traders, market stalls, etc., will prove their income and access low-interest loans.

For that, they will only have to use the electronic wallet, regardless of whether they use it to receive payments in DOLLARS.

Los puntos Chivo: 200 Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador

Another novelty is the introduction of Chivo points. Chivo is the name of El Salvador’s official wallet app, which entitles you to $30 in Bitcoin. Under the same brand, as many as 200 Bitcoin ATMs are being built where you can convert BTC to USD to withdraw it and deposit USD and convert it to BTC. 

In addition, these will also be information points where there will be staff to explain the operation of ATMs and give all the info you need to disentangle with Bitcoin. 

All this without commissions. The ATMs will be operational 24 hours a day. 

All this concerns those who will “convert” to Bitcoin. And who will not want to do it? The president explains that absolutely nothing will happen. No one is forced to use Bitcoin.

All that remains is to wait for how many residents of El Salvador will start using BTC as of September 7. 

The number of Bitcoin ATMs in the world

According to Coinatmradar, there are currently only 4 Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador. So the president aims to deploy 200 machines for a population of “only” 6.5 million. That projects El Salvador among the three countries with the absolute highest number of ATMs, and certainly also at the top of the charts for the ratio of number of ATMs to population. 

Suffice it to say that at the top of the Coin ATM Radar ranking are the United States with more than 22 thousand branches, Canada with almost 1,800 branches, and, at a distance, the United Kingdom with 164 branches. El Salvador, with 204 ATMs, would be third. 

In El Salvador, there will basically be one Bitcoin ATM for every 32,500 people or so. It currently remains “below” the United States, which boasts one Bitcoin ATM for every 16,500 people, and also below Canada, which instead has one Bitcoin ATM for every 20,500 inhabitants.

But given El Salvador’s small size, you can bet that its Bitcoin ATMs will excel in density. 

Eleonora Spagnolo

Journalist passionate about the web and the digital world. She graduated with honours in Multimedia Publishing at the University La Sapienza in Rome and completed a master's degree in Web and Social Media Marketing.

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