The world’s first “Bitcoin City” could be coming to El Salvador, according to its President Nayib Bukele. Speaking last week, the official’s announcement forms part of plans to kick-start investments in the Central American republic by making cryptocurrency king for its trade.
News of El Salvador’s intentions to make history as the world's first country to make bitcoin a legal tender first came about in the summer of 2021. “The #BitcoinLaw has been approved by a supermajority in the Salvadoran Congress,” tweeted Bukele, confirming the achievement. “62 out of 84 votes! History!”
While many welcomed the change in the times, some voiced fears over Bitcoin’s reputation for being harmful to the environment. However, the president’s plans for the Bitcoin City claim to have accounted for this particular pitfall of cryptocurrency.
"Invest here and make all the money you want," Reuters reports Bukele said. "This is a fully ecological city that works and is energized by a volcano."
El Salvador is one of the world champions of geothermal energy production, an approach that pays when you have 23 active volcanoes to harness energy from. Geothermal sources currently fuel around one-quarter of its national power consumption and is renewable.
However, that's not to say all of Bitcoin's downfalls are taken care of and some are protesting against the move with fears that the limitations of "Bitcoin mining" could put the country in a vulnerable position.
It may be that Bitcoin City's intentions lay outside the realm of going green, then, and news of utilities and tax haven policies within its walls seem to indicate it will be something of a nature reserve for the rich instead. According to the BBC, Bukele announced at the pop concert-esque beachside Bitcoin event in Mizata that the city would include "residential areas, commercial areas, services, museums, entertainment, bars, restaurants, airport, port, rail — everything devoted to Bitcoin.”
Add to that the fact that the country would not levy any taxes on Bitcoin except for value-added tax (VAT), and you can certainly see the allure for the One Percent. What money is taxed will apparently be used to “build up the city” and keep it “neat and clean” by funding public services and construction, which the president estimates will cost around 300,000 bitcoins, or $17 billion.
The Bitcoin City will reportedly pay homage to its namesake in its design, being circular in shape with a central plaza that will look like the Bitcoin symbol from above. It will be funded by cryptocurrency and established at the base of the Conchagua volcano in La Unión to the southeast. Bitcoin "bros" don't have a reputation for successfully building cryptocurrency-based utopias, so far, however.
So, will you be moving to the Big B?