Jose Cabezas / Reuters
Jose Cabezas / Reuters
- Michael Peterson became the so-called father of Bitcoin Beach, reported Bloomberg Businessweek.
- Thanks to an anonymous donation, Peterson El Zonte helped introduce the currency as far as possible.
- The legislature in El Salvador has since voted for the introduction of the cryptocurrency as legal tender.
- Check out Insider’s business page for more stories.
47-year-old Michael Peterson fell in love 17 years ago on a surf trip in El Zonte, a beach on the Pacific coast in El Salvador.
The city grew on him, and he and his family began to split their time between their home in California and El Salvador, where, through their Evangelical Christian Church, they supported mission groups and small development projects.
That church put him in an unlikely scenario that turned El Zonte into Bitcoin Beach and made Peterson his father figure.
A June 16 article in Bloomberg Businessweek titled “Bitcoin Beach: What Happened When an El Salvador Surf Town Went Full Crypto” documented how Peterson helped convert El Zonte’s payments into cryptocurrency. Almost all households in the city and four dozen local businesses are now using Bitcoin.
“It’s crazy how quickly Bitcoin has caught on,” Peterson told Bloomberg reporter Ezra Fieser. Peterson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request to comment on the story.
The concept came about in 2019 when an anonymous Californian offered to donate his Bitcoin fortune to El Zonte to create a local economy with the cryptocurrency. Peterson was introduced by the church to the unknown donor.
At first, Peterson thought it sounded like fraud, Bloomberg said, but then the thought of transforming El Zonte made him rethink.
“It allows everyone from the poorest to the richest to play on the same playing field,” he told Bloomberg.
Adoption of “magic internet money”
Peterson already had a longstanding relationship with the community that helped get locals to adopt the idea, he said on a CoinDesk podcast on June 11.
“When I told them, ‘Hey, we’re going to start using this magical internet money, and we’re going to … [get] Accepting deals, we’ll get people to collect their salaries in it. They just looked at me like, ‘OK, Mike,’ “he said on the podcast.
The experiment really took off as El Salvador’s tourism industry struggled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Peterson gave around $ 35 in Bitcoin to hundreds of local families each month through an app designed for small crypto transactions. El Zonte’s businesses wanted to get into the currency, so Peterson launched the Bitcoin Beach wallet in September.
Now bitcoin has become the norm.
Thanks in part to the El Zonte experiment, El Salvador was the first country in the world to introduce Bitcoin as a currency. She then asked the World Bank for help in implementing cryptocurrency as legal tender, but was quickly refused.
Because of the “insane interest” since the currency was legally introduced, Peterson plans to help other cities across the country emulate the El Zonte experiment.
“For many of these people this is the first time they have felt the hope that they can build a future in El Salvador, that they don’t have to follow their parents’ path to illegally sneak into the US and work there Building a Bitcoin-based business, “Peterson said on the CoinDesk podcast.” It really opens the world for them.